Phone anxiety: Is texting taking over our communication skills?
By Lina Wood, Scientell intern
If you get performance anxiety when talking on the phone, you’re not alone.
It’s common for many of us to experience stress when making or receiving a phone call. But this stress is especially true for millennials when compared with older generations.
With the invention of the BlackBerry phone in the 90s, we became text-obsessed mobile users and gone were the days when we would practise our signature answering lines.
So why do we seem to love texting so much?
Texting allows us time to consider what we want to say, whereas on the phone we may feel put on the spot. Over the phone we also can’t respond to people’s body language and other social cues. We may feel self-conscious of the sound of our own voice.
Phone conversation expert, Mary Jane Copps, compares speaking on the phone with public speaking, in the way that you can’t really prepare for it. But you can practise it.
Practising speaking on the phone allows you to regain (or establish) your confidence.
Despite the modern world of emails and texting, phone calls should be made a priority communication method. A phone call can often remove the potential for a ‘chain of miscommunication’ when emailing, according to Copps. It may also get the work done faster.
A call can also lead to opportunities as conversations move in new directions, something that rarely happens with emails.
Professor Ravi Gajendran from Florida International University conducted a study on the hidden costs of text-based electronic communication. He found emails can become counterproductive, particularly for complex tasks as context and message nuance can be lost.
His study suggests that we consider what type of communication is most effective for our message on a case-by-case basis.
Never fear! Just like with public speaking, there are ways you can practise speaking calmly on the phone:
- Preparing some notes or talking points can make you feel more confident.
- Reframe your thinking. Instead of viewing a call as a threat, focus on the positive aspects. Phone calls can be opportunities to connect with others, build relationships and get things done more effectively.
- Mindfulness techniques may help to calm your mind and reduce anxiety.
- Exposure therapy. Practice by gradually working up to more challenging phone calls.
We can all benefit from improving our communication skills to ensure our messages are conveyed accurately and effectively.