Have you ever asked a colleague to screen your phone calls because you just don’t feel like talking to someone? Or experienced a feeling of dread when your phone rings or when making a call? Do you prefer to text or email instead? Welcome to telephonophobia – the increasing avoidance of phone calls in favour of text-based communications.

What is telephonophobia?

A recent survey of office workers across the UK revealed that more than three-quarters of younger workers, millennials, feel anxious about talking over the telephone. This compares to just 40% of the baby boomer working population, marking a mismatch in communication preferences and expectations.

As a result of this growing avoidance of using the telephone for business communication and developments in other communication technology, workers are now favouring text-based options. What they are finding is that telephone alternatives are leading to great efficiency and productivity.

The benefits of putting down the telephone

Most people have heard of the phrase, ‘it’s good to talk’, and this is still very much the case today. What is changing, however, is the method people use to do it. Globalisation, remote working, the internet and the fact that many businesses now span different time zones, mean that it is essential for business communication to take place 24 hours a day.

It is not always practical to pick up the phone. It is far more efficient to be able to send an email, or use an instant-chat style messenger service. The benefits to this are obvious when you consider conversations that need to take place across different locations or time-zones, but there are also advantages in open-plan offices, where overheard conversations can be awkward or subject to distractions.

The efficiency of the written word

A successful phone conversation requires 100 per cent commitment, stripping away the handy ability to multi-task. They are also likely to be time-consuming to achieve the same result which could also be reached via a short, succinct email. Phone calls can make people feel pressured to answer there and then, whereas emails enable more time for an answer to be given.

Another added benefit is that – by their very nature – written business communication leaves a record of what is being said. They completely remove the need to take notes or try to remember what was said in a phone call.

Of course, all of these benefits by no means suggest that there is no place for the telephone in today’s business world. There are still times when a verbal conversation is of value, such as an initial chat with a colleague or client to ascertain their chosen form of communication, or for when an urgent answer is required.

The key is in identifying which channels are fit for purpose for different needs and adapting your approach as necessary.

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Don’t let telephonophobia hold your business back!