The Introvert Chronicles: Telephone Reluctance

I’m an introvert. This is something I am only recently really exploring. So, I thought it might be fun to write about it. And hey, huge blog series potential!

I do answer my telephone. When I am at home and not busy (and you are not a telemarketer), I really do answer my telephone.

I do not check my caller ID for missed calls. If you called and did not leave a message, I will not know that you called (and will not know to return your call).

I feel the need to repeat this information at least three times a week, to various people.

You never answer your phone!

You don’t call me back.

Why do you even have a telephone?

I get it all, in varying levels of passive-aggression and moodiness, depending on the person razzing my telephone habits and how long they’ve been “trying” to get in contact with me.

I’m an introvert. I love visiting with people, and often have coffee dates lined up, but I don’t like groups of more than three, and I always need at least a day to re-charge after. I need to think before I speak, I am awful at confrontation and always shut down. I don’t enjoy interruptions, I do my best work solo, I prefer to listen, and I will always write better than I speak.

I hate the telephone.

This is kind of funny considering how many positions of employment I have had that flat out require my (sometimes constant) use of the phone. (I was once a call taker, and radio dispatcher for the RCMP. I did not last long in that job at all.) I will avoid its use like the plague (it is), and far prefer email (which is better for my record maintenance anyway).

A few months back, when I was trying to decide if I was the only person in existence who hated the telephone (I know I’m not, but sometimes, especially late at night, when your brain won’t hush, you Google ALL THE THINGS), I stumbled across this post by Andy Mort, Phone-Reluctant Introverts, There Is Nothing Wrong With You.

It’s me. Right there on that page, written by someone I wouldn’t be able to pick out of a crowd of two, is me. In short, Mort writes about this very real aspect of introversion. The telephone is intrusive, and answering it is not easy, as it often requires that you switch gears, which is rarely Introvert friendly.

Mort also outlines that this is not a choice. Like introversion, telephone-reluctance is a part of who you are. I can attest. The sound of a ringing phone can sometimes bring forth anxiety like little else. I am, like Mort, not being intentionally rude if I do not answer. It’s not that I don’t like you, or I don’t enjoy our conversations (though that is sometimes a thing, but that’s anxiety for a different day), it’s that via the telephone isn’t always the best way for us to visit. (Sometimes it is, especially when my phone buddy lives hundreds of kilometers away. But, then, those calls are usually pre-arranged so that we can both clear some time for a proper visit, and I can put myself into the space required for a good phone call.)

I think my favourite part of Mort’s article, the piece that speaks to me the strongest, is where he writes about expecting an answer. We live in this crazy world where we have so much information and ability literally at our fingertips, available instantly, that we expect it of everything and everyone. I don’t like to operate like that. I don’t like an instant (often over) share of my life. I disseminate information how, to whom, and when I choose. (It’s the main reason that I no longer maintain a Facebook page.)

In my opinion, it’s ruder to expect an answer than it is not to give one.”

This part of the article also lends a lot of credence to my “I need to think before I speak” personality trait. There are some phone calls I take eagerly, knowing exactly how they’ll go and how long they’ll last. There are others that I do not take, knowing that I can call that person back when I am more mentally present, or prepared, to take them on, via the telephone.

Again, Mort said it well, “it’s not you, but it’s ALSO not me. It’s that stupid phone, leave me a message and I’ll get back to you when I can.”

ELO – Telephone Line




17 thoughts on “The Introvert Chronicles: Telephone Reluctance

  1. I’m totally there…I consistently let my phone run completely out of battery, have the sound off, and leave it at the very bottom of my bag, never prepay more than $15, so I always have a “legitimate” reason for why I may not have been able to answer the phone. I started giving people A’s number so that if they actually have a reason to get ahold of me, it’s a bit more awkward for them to have him answer, so if it’s not important, they generally don’t call him. And then I also can avoid that awkward beginning of most phone conversations.

    • HAH! I don’t have A’s number. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY!?

      But yes. YES. I just…really don’t like answering the phone. It’s not fun. Ever, really. (Mostly.)

  2. Cristina says:

    Interesting! I’m phone-shy when it comes to making appointments (even if they are expecting me to call) and I hate cold calls (got a little used to this at work but I would practically have a script written up). I love caller ID. We even had a phone that had voice caller ID, so the phone would say who was calling, so you wouldn’t even have to get up out of your chair if you didn’t want to look. My TV also doubles as caller ID display. It’s lovely.

    I agree with the whole “if you don’t leave a message, it wasn’t that important.” I never check my missed calls, simply because telemarketers call and clog up my missed calls, lol, but always check to see if I have a message. I love texting though, since I can see what I’ve written (I’m always paranoid that I’ve said things wrong or written down information wrong).

    • Caller ID is a godsend. Voice caller ID sounds lovely! Hah, and that television thing is awesome, I have friends with that deal. It’s pretty nifty.

      Thank you! Yes. If you don’t leave a message, it wasn’t important. (Also? If you leave a message that is informational and doesn’t require a follow-up phone call, I’m not going to call you back. It’s awkward and little more than “hi…how’re things…?” Ain’t no one got time for that. Let’s go out for coffee, mmmkay?)

      I also love texting. Well. I love the idea of texting. My cellphone is too old for it to be fun for me to write more than a tweet-long text. (It’s a great excuse for so many things. Pay-and-talk AND it’s archaic. Win!)

  3. I’m the same way. So glad you shared Mort’s article as well. I have never been good on the phone and I am extremely introverted. I also have to take at least a day to recover after spending time with someone. I delay phone calls as much as I can and send everyone to voicemail so I can have time to process. I always thought I was just weird and awkward, and not that other people have the same experience.

    I think being an introvert is hard to begin with because it is different than the norm. People also misunderstand the things introverts do and think we are being uncaring, or rude, or that we just don’t like them. On top of that, introverts don’t talk about how we do things because we are introverted! I keep why and how I do things, and why I may not do things “normally” to myself because I’m nervous to share.

    Anyway, this post really helped me, I hope it becomes a blog series for you. You are awesome lady!

    xox, C

    • You are one of my favourites. I love it when you stop by. Thank you. 🙂

      I hate that we had to feel like we were “the only ones.” What a terrible, lonely place that is. And mix that with a solid dose of anxiety and depression and you’ve got yourself a fucking win! Ugh.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Mort’s article, too. I love his blog. It’s so reassuring to read.

      I think you’re spot on. People completely misunderstand. It’s difficult for non-introverts to wrap their heads around the way we are. I am not quick to bring people into my life, especially the important, intimate, and very private aspects of it. This hurts people if they don’t take the time to understand that I don’t mean to hurt them. I need that space. I need to understand myself, and situations, and I need to take some time for myself. It’s important.

      (This has caused a lot of strife and grief this year. It’s actually pretty incredible. And distressing.)

      Thanks again, hon. 🙂 I really hope I can adapt this into a series. ❤

      HEY! By the b'ye – have you read Quiet by Cain? I've only thumbed through it, but plan to give it a deep read soon, but it's awesome. All about introverts. I think it'd be worth the read, hugely. 🙂

  4. suzymmarie says:

    This post is so interesting. I especially love the part where you talk about having to ‘switch gears’ just to answer the post. I’m mostly extroverted (although I do really like time by myself and find overly extroverted people difficult to deal with for long periods of time) but I am quite happy with the phone. I think you (and Mort) are right in saying that people expect everything to be instant now because that is the way our society works, it’s interesting how this expectation can affect people in various ways. Really enjoyed reading this – a great insight into an introverted life!

  5. Okay PLEASE DO write a series called The Introvert Chronicles. That is brilliant. I am so down for reading that.

    It’s interesting—I am usually pretty good with the phone. I used to be better when I was younger (have I become more of an introvert the older I get? I think so), but even now it’s usually fine. EXCEPT every time someone calls me, no matter how much I like them or want to talk to them, I don’t reeeeeeally wanna pick up the phone. I usually stare at my phone and sigh and then reluctantly answer. Unless it’s certain people… then I let it go to VM so I know what they were calling for.

    But it definitely pisses me off when I get shit for not answering the phone. Or not responding. Especially if it’s work-related (I used to get the occasional phone call on Sunday at my last job. I would ignore it and then send a text “Is everything ok?” hahaha). Answering work related phone calls are THE ULTIMATE WORST.

    Anyway, I can’t wait to read more in the Introvert Chronicles! 🙂

    • I will! I’m really interested in writing more about it. Because it’s interesting and I need to learn more! (…because I don’t have enough reading/researching on my plate already. Natch.)

      Dude. I have completely become more of an introvert (shut.In) in my advanced age. It’s actually kind of funny. I was not This Guy before. I strongly feel that this is a result of my completely coming into my own after fighting hard to establish my independence and decide who I AM, not who people would like me to be. It’s been really neat that way.

      It doesn’t make sense. I can’t think of a time when I’d be that angry with someone for not answering. Either they’re busy, out, or they don’t want to talk. C’est ca. That’s aces, we’ll catch up when we catch up.

      Work calls are The Worst. Agreed. I am not looking forward to returning to my office in August. Ugh. Phone calls. Blech. 😉

      • YES! That is exactly it though. The more than I am okay with who I am and the more I embrace that, the more introverted I become. Which is just fine with me—I don’t want to pretend to be someone else or be happy-happy-happy all the time because that’s what I should do. And it’s a cool change… and sometimes a difficult one. 🙂

        Not gonna lie. I get pretty pissed at Jacob when he doesn’t answer. 😉

        But work calls—THE WORST. THE WORST. I HATE THEM. I think everything should be done in person or via email.

      • Isn’t it awesome to become yourself? It seems so simple and so natural, but it’s a hard-fought process. I love it.

  6. karen says:

    Holy! This may have just changed my life! This is completely me. I am off to find out about introversion because honestly? I have truly been going around for 48 years thinking I am defective.

    • Awh! I’m so glad this information was helpful for you, Karen. 🙂

      Have you read “Quiet” by Cain? It’s about introverts/introversion. 🙂 I’m just skimming it currently (no time for heavy reading this second), but it’s awesome!

      • karen says:

        I have read Quiet, but I didn’t quite finish it. I can’t remember exactly why, but I remember being annoyed with it for some reason. Maybe I’ll try it again.

      • Annoyed. That is really good to know. Ooh. I’m suddenly really interested in pushing that one to the top of the must-read pile, now!

  7. That part with you being an introvert, I think it could have been written for me. The entire paragraph, I can just copy and paste it word for word and it would describe me perfectly. As for the telephone, I’ve been known to decline calls when I am not in the mood to talk to whoever it is on the other end. Ooops. 🙂

    • Bah. No “ooops” about it! You are who you are. 😉

      I am always so happy to know it’s not just me. That was a major revelation, you know? When I finally began to understand that I wasn’t being rude, that it wasn’t that I didn’t like someone, it was that I am me and that’s how I operate. I believed, FOR AGES, that I was wrong. That it was just me and that I was wrong. (Eons of guilt and shame will do that to a person. Good grief.)

      ANYWAY. I’m glad this strikes a chord, lady! Thank you so much for the comment, I really appreciate it. 🙂

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