Telephone-phobia

Today I made around 12 phone calls at work. I had to call people for different purposes. It may sound funny to a lot of people but when I first moved to Canada, I was terrified of being on the phone with anyone. My main fear was that I wouldn’t understand what they were saying or they wouldn’t understand me. English is not my first language and I think that was the main reason why I had that fear.

I felt that being from a different country, my accent would be too strong; I had this idea ingrained in my mind that people would not understand me and would get frustrated.  I thought I had gotten over that fear. After all, during my first year in Canada I had to call people many times. I would also receive calls and it all seemed to work very well. I rarely had any problem and I felt more confident. Moreover, at my ELT class, we practiced leaving voice messages for professional purposes. We were also given great tips on how to sound clear over the phone and in person. This may be a little scary for some people but we actually had to do one minute long impromptu speeches, while standing in front of the whole class. The first couple times my classmates and I did the speech, we may not have been very good; but we got better the more we practiced. This exercise, along with the advice we received for calling people and leaving voice messages, helped me a lot in gaining confidence.

The fear returned, however, the moment I started working. Knowing I would have to call people in my field very often brought back that insecurity. The first couple times that I had to do it, my heart was racing. As time has gone by it has gotten easier and easier. Today, I didn’t even think about being nervous or insecure before making any of my calls. I know that as long as I speak at a good pace (not too fast, not too slow) and I prepare before a call, it will be OK.

I know this is something that other newcomers I know have experienced. I remember talking to a person from Argentina who had this problem. She told me that she never picked up the phone when it rang at home. It was nerve-wrecking for her because she was still studying English and didn’t think she would be able to understand or make herself understood on the phone. Though I don’t know how she is doing now, I’m pretty sure she must have gotten over it after time went by.

Something as simple and normal to most people can be a challenge to a newcomer. Thankfully, with time and practice it all gets better and easier. I know it did for me and now I love calling people.

As a newcomer, was this also a challenge for you? Do you know anyone who went through this? What tips would you suggest to get over this fear?

I look forward to reading your comments! Thanks!

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About Diana Massimi

As a newcomer in Canada, I've had some really great experiences. Every day, I continue to learn and adapt to my new country. As I've just passed the three year mark as a permanent resident, I'll soon be applying for citizenship. It's an exciting step to take and I'm looking forward to being "officially" Canadian. This blog is to share what I've learned so far and my everyday experiences and feelings being a newcomer to this country. More than anything I'll be looking forward to hearing from other newcomers and exchanging impressions and anecdotes about our new life in Canada. Feel free to share and ask questions, I'm also always happy to help a fellow newcomer!
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6 Responses to Telephone-phobia

  1. My fear of the phone is a little bit different. I’m naturally an introvert so getting someone on the phone, having to explain who I am and why I’m calling, is scary. Even today…with 15 years of experience. It’s not an easy thing to do, but you’re doing it as exactly as you should – just by picking up the phone and calling.

    • Hi Gini, thank you for your comment.

      I find that every morning, after giving it a lot of thought and finally deciding to make that first call, the rest are not too bad. I try to tell myself that it’s ok, I have something of value to offer, so I should have nothing to fear; this has helped so much! I have a feeling though that like you, no matter how many years of experience, I will always feel a little edgy about making phone calls. It’s better to see it as a challenge to overcome and then feel good because you got it done and it went well!

  2. I’m born in Canada and I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to phone calls, especially cold calls. When it’s really important, I stop and think about what I’m going to say in different scenarios (e.g. negotiating over pricing). It gets better with time and practice.

    • I do the same! I even write down a short script and imagine how I would react depending on the response I get. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t; at least it gives me the courage to call because I feel more prepared.

  3. Mika says:

    I haven’t got any better in phone conversation yet. Actually, I fear calls as you experienced first. I know my pronunciation of many English sounds are not accurate. So It’s specially troublesome to call a international delivery company, because I have to spell the address of clients in China or other countries. Of course, I say like “t” for tiger, “S” for sugar…and it takes a looong time. Hope I can improve it one day.

    • Hi Mika, thank you for your comment. You will see that it will improve with time and practice. Also, I would recommend using the phonetic alphabet when spelling names. It is a well-known alphabet that a lot of people use. I feel comfortable using it when I’m on the phone and I have to spell names. Here is a link to a website where you can see the alphabet: http://www.osric.com/chris/phonetic.html I hope it helps!

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