Phone People: Confessions of a Tele-phobe

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

What are "phone people", and why doesn't Erika count herself among their ranks

There are phone people in this world. Phone people are the people who, you know, like to talk on the phone. They will spend time “chatting” when on a call—they might actually call someone with no purpose other than to chat. Phone people answer their phone promptly when it rings, and make no delay when they themselves have a call to make. Phones are an everyday part of life, and may actually bring joy or pleasure.

Then there’s me.

For me, nothing strikes fear in my heart more than the ringing of the phone. The simple act of picking up the phone is as difficult a task as lifting a 200lb weight. Have I ever let you go straight to voicemail? Sometimes it’s because I’m busy at that moment, but sometimes it’s because I just couldn’t hit the talk button. Just.couldn’ And God forbid we are on the phone and you casually toss a “So, what’s up?” or “What’s new?” my way. It won’t matter if I’ve just answered the phone after winning a Nobel Peace Prize, all you’ll hear from me is a mumbling and stumbling series of “ah, nothing much”s. And if I have a phone call to make? Better give me a week lead-time because of all the gearing up and pep talking I have to do to myself. Phones are just evil but necessary ways to transmit information: bring this, be here, do this…. and really, now that we can just text each other that, do we really need to talk talk?

It’s really odd, this phobia of mine. Because if you’ve met me, you know that I’m not afraid to talk to you in person. And I like a good chit-chat as much as the next guy—you want to spend 5 minutes chattering about our lives before we get down to business? Great! I also pride myself on being efficient and fast-moving as a worker; if there is a task to get done, I want to just get it done already. No dragging my feet, no sir’ee.

Unless the phone is involved.

And then I melt into a puddle of resistance. You can RING at me all you want, phone, but I DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER YOU, even if I see that it is my office calling. (Okay, office, I promise when I see that it is you calling I DO answer, but I sometimes have to wait until the last ring to do it.)

What is with me? I am sure there is a support group for the likes of me: that somewhere out there, there is a group of people who shudder at the sound of a ringing phone. But until I find them to commiserate on the evils of this mode of communication, I’m left to ponder it on my own.

Really, there is only one conclusion that I can possibly draw from this peculiar side of me, and it’s….



Na, I actually have no idea why I’m the way that I am with those pesky phones.

Maybe we’re all just wired differently. Maybe a phone call is exactly how you engage with those around you; heck, maybe you prefer the phone to the face to face. I’ll never understand you, but I get it.

So while I work to overcome my phone phobia, in the meantime I can also just remember this: there are multiple ways to engage with the people around me: face-to-face, phone, text, email, letter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and an endless array of other social media outlets. Some of those methods of engagement spark a light in me, and some don’t. I can only imagine the same is true of others. So, if I’m trying to connect with someone and my chosen method of engagement isn’t working, maybe I just need to try another. If you’re ignoring my texts it’s quite possibly not because you’re being rude and spiteful but more likely because you need to have a real, live conversation. If you haven’t “liked” my Facebook post it’s most likely not because you don’t think it’s dang adorable, but more that you rarely go on Facebook because it just doesn’t fill you up.

Has a connection been dropped? Maybe you just need to pick up another method of engagement. What’s your preferred method? Share in the comments below or tweet me @ErikaPetrelli1.   


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.