Phone: A friend or foe?

Building confidence, becoming a phone person.

Becoming a phone person matters, even if you’ve haven’t grown up to be one.

The following is a post I wrote for my friends on the new social networking site Just10 (it’s really cool, check it out), and I think it’s worth sharing publicly here as well.

Part of the job of fundraising is the responsibility to phone people who might be interested in supporting your cause. This very aspect of the work has been the most challenging, personally. For other purposes, the phone and I get along cordially, but in these instances, a minor phone phobia has ensued.

The reality of the situation is that although I can use the phone in everyday use–it’s just not a skill I’m well versed in using. Naturally, I wanted to get some advice on this and turned to my favourite search engine. The results it yielded included a trilogy of articles on the subject written by Jack Busch on These articles titled “Getting over phone anxiety: Why it’s time to stop being an email person and start being a phone person” have helped me to recognize that phoning really isn’t a quality of my existence; though, they have convinced me that the phone really should be.

The switch from primarily using the phone to communicate to communicating by text and email happened in the years just preceding high school for me. I can remember calling my elementary school friends to talk in the early years. But gradually that dropped off to the point that my primary forms of communication through my teenage and adult years have been through email, social media and text, excluding virtually all overlap with the phone: the latter replaced the former. In this scenario, the phone has been reserved for business calls, doctors’ appointments, formal responsibility, and perhaps bad news. All of these have tended to make negative impressions or associations with the phone.

The lack of use has, in turn, created a void of experience and confidence that would have otherwise come from everyday practice. Busch has his own similar story on Primer but seeks to overcome this challenge of using the phone that has come with the times. Let me share some of the insights that he gained in his research and where it takes me from there.

Busch indicates that the phone is trending up and becoming more important in the workplace. Though email allows more processing time for those who consider themselves slow, the phone is useful for immediacy, communicating personal warmth, and bridging generations among other things. Because these things are true, it becomes increasingly important to learn the skill of effective phone communication.

In the second article, Busch shares what he gleaned from talking with Alexa Fisher, a speaking coach and actress. One thing that the two of them have in common is introversion. But despite this commonality, Fisher exudes confidence and warmth, where Busch admits that he conveys an apologetic feel. What makes the difference?

Fisher believes that it’s possible for anyone to learn “the ability to share the best version of yourself at all times.” She calls this a 1000 Watt Presence. It’s possible to work on improving this ability by becoming aware of one’s internal script, then rewriting it so that it conforms to what is really felt and believed, not just the hesitancy felt on the surface. This is really important because emotions are contagious and most of us can’t hide them very well.

For example, had Busch known this advice at the start, he would have rewritten his script accordingly before calling her:

“I am someone who has had some awkward moments in his life. But I am excited because I’ve decided to change all of that. I’ve received an awesome assignment to go out and talk to experts who are as inspired by this topic as I am. Now, I get to talk to someone who cares as much as I do about conquering social awkwardness. I can’t wait to learn more and I bet the expert I’m calling is pumped to share her wisdom.”

This trick works because it makes one’s true feelings take the centre stage. It doesn’t create a false presentation but helps weed out surface nervousness or reservations.

Another key trick Fisher offers for interpersonal relations is to be curious. You can’t be wrong by being curious, and it helps to take the focus off oneself and transfer to the other person in the conversation.

In Busch’s third and final post, he lists ten pieces of invaluable advice, which you can find here. But perhaps the most helpful tip I’ve gained from this reading exercise is that it is possible to be a “phone person,” even if your formative years have already past. He suggests that whenever you can call a friend, a business or whomever, especially when you’re guaranteed a pleasant answer, do it (rather than texting or using some other medium).

At least I can say I truly get the idea. Now it’s just a matter of putting it in practice. Good-bye cell, hello home phone? …Don’t know if I’ll go that far but it’s toward that end that I’d like to move.

Joyce Meyers has some good things to say on becoming a godly woman of confidence here. Her insights dovetail nicely with rewriting a more confident internal script by providing some core reasons and beliefs that fuel that confidence. Whereas confidence may otherwise just be assumed as a skill to learn, it’s important to recognize that confidence does not merely stem from belief in oneself but gets its foundation from God’s eternal, unchanging love toward his children (the first of her seven “secrets” to becoming a confident woman). Between these resources, I am left with much to process and integrate into my life.

So what about you? Is the phone a friend or foe in your experience? From where do you get your confidence?

Written March 3, 2016
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Photo source: here.

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