Let’s Talk About…Avoiding Phone Calls at Work

Q: I increasingly avoid taking phone calls in work. I panic when I don’t know who is calling, or why, and wait hours to listen to voicemails.

Many people dislike talking on the phone, but there is a difference between ‘dislike’ and ‘panic’.

Did something change recently, why are you increasingly assuming the worst? Invest time in sitting down and analysing all of your feelings in relation to taking phone calls, in detail. Can you pinpoint key moments or people involved? Are there issues around Control? Perfectionism? Judgement? Company culture? Go right back to basics: are you looking after yourself? Is this really a ‘phone’ issue or are you simply at capacity, unable to contemplate another incoming drama?

There is a wide range of possible reasons and triggers, and naming yours will be a useful first step.  For example, in the current climate, I have encountered many people whose financial worries are causing them to be generally fearful of their phones, inboxes and post boxes. Not fun, but realising it – and naming it aloud – brings huge relief.

Seek facts to quash your fears. Of the calls you take, what percentage are actually unpleasant? Remember successful calls. Remember that saying “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you” is responsibility, not incompetence. You cannot predict, or change, the content or tone of what a caller might say, but you can certainly use positive thinking to help you react better until this is resolved.


This Q&A was first published in Irish Tatler magazine.

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