This is not really a secret, but introverts absolutely hate talking on the phone. Phone calls, especially those that are unsolicited and unexpected, terrifies them.
It’s just their nature. Most introverts dislike talking on the phone — a lot. It’s something that extroverts don’t naturally understand since they love a good phone chat, and it can create tension in relationships and put people off unintentionally.
The first thing both need to realize is that people interact with the world in different ways and have innate preferences around energy. Introverts direct their energy inward toward their rich inner world. They receive energy by reflecting on their thoughts and feelings. They enjoy solitude, learn by thinking, cultivate deep interests and close personal relationships, prefer communicating in writing, and intensely value their privacy.
Extroverts, in contrast, direct their energy outward and gain energy by interacting with others and taking action. They enjoy being the center of attention, work out ideas by talking (and thinking) out loud, learn by doing or talking, have large social networks and a variety of interests, and thrive on being around others and expressing themselves.
The difference in communication styles is perhaps never so stark as when it involves the telephone. When the extrovert calls the introvert, what seems like 10 times a day, the introvert is likely going to recoil. Or, when an unknown number pops up, this can be both a nuisance and a source of stress.
Introverts dislike the phone so much they’d rather text Siri than answering the phone. Even if it’s a close friend or family member – some aspect of phone calls is always likely to put them on edge and not feeling at their best.
Here are 6 reasons why introverts hate talking on the phone:
1. A ringing phone feels like an intrusion.
Introverts are highly focused on whatever they’re doing or thinking about, and phone calls interrupt their thought process and solitude. They biologically need their quiet time and introspection. And, it doesn’t matter who is calling – an intrusion is an intrusion.
That said, nothing is worse than an unwanted sales call. These occur at the most inopportune times, such as during daydreams or solving problems. What the introvert is thinking at that unfavorable moment is “Go away! I’ll call you if I’m interested!” I’m sure many a slammed phone is done by introverts.
Related: Why Introverts Hate Small Talk
2. The unknown is anxiety-provoking.
Introverts like to anticipate, and an unexpected call can create nervousness. Blocked or unknown numbers evoke panic, and prompt “Who is calling me?” as well as suspicion for the introvert who likes to build trusting relationships with people before speaking on the phone.
More important, perhaps, is the introverts’ desire to be an expert and master everything they do. Winging it on the phone, without an opportunity to research something in detail isn’t something they enjoy.
3. Chit chat is useless.
Most phone calls start with meaningless banter about the weather or how busy everyone has been. The introvert values depth and has no time for small talk. They would much sooner curl up on a couch and dive into a comprehensive conversation about the meaning of life or exactly how to stop climate change.
4. It’s exhausting.
Introverts process information in a particular way: Hear, think about it, think some more, respond, then think some more. Here is what happens for extroverts: Hear, talk, think, talk, talk, and talk some more. Trying to process that much sensory information without a break can be tiring!
And, while introverts can be excellent listeners, don’t be surprised if they drift off during the call and you find yourself asking if they are still on the line. They want to get to the crucial bits of the call, and they’re too kind to tell you that you’re rambling.
5. There are no visual cues.
Many introverts rely on body language to interpret conversations. A regular phone call only has words, tone, and pacing. It doesn’t include facial expressions or other sensory information, either. On a regular phone call, the introvert’s inner world is working on overdrive to understand the meaning, and this can be nerve-racking and uncomfortable.
6. The caller puts them on the spot.
Introverts prefer to reflect and then respond, which is why they gravitate to written communication like email. In phone conversations, there is little opportunity to think things through and then answer.
Often, the caller wants a decision NOW. It could be decisions to questions like: “Will you sign up now?” or “What would you like to do tonight?” or working through a conflict with a colleague or family member. It’s not that the introvert seeks to avoid confrontation; they prefer to think through the problem and thoughtfully convey their ideas.
Introverts flourish with written communication because it allows them to communicate in an exact way. Reflecting then responding is how introverts give their best to every situation.
Managing the introvert’s phone aversion
Just because introverts hate talking on the phone doesn’t mean that you must give up phone calls altogether. Here are some ways you can sidestep the issues, and get your communication needs met, too:
If you’re the extrovert, remember, it’s not personal; it’s just not in an introvert’s nature to enjoy that phone communication.
Here’s what to do:
- Send an email or text to your introverted friend first to arrange a good time to chat.
- Suggest using an app like WhatsApp or Facetime, so it’ll be almost like you’re in person.
- Give some time for your introvert to think and try not to pressure them for a response.
- Start the conversation by talking about something you know they love so they feel at ease (and much happier to have an extended, more expressive conversation with you).
- Know when to hang up; let your introvert off the hook to decompress.
If you’re the introvert, go easy on yourself. Figure out ways to make talking on the phone more bearable, and you’ll be much happier, such as:
- Change your ringer to a calming ring tone that gradually gets louder, so you won’t jump 3 feet every time the phone interrupts you.
- Assign a unique ring tone to your primary contacts, and then you’ll always know who’s calling and you can decide if you’re going to answer the call.
- You be the caller so you can think about what to say and rehearse if needed to get it right.
- Give yourself the time you need to think through your responses. It’s ok to say, “I’ll get back to you tomorrow”.
- Don’t feel guilty about unplugging; get your stuff done and talk when you’re ready to talk.
Getting to know the differences between the types can give you a new level of appreciation and reduce friction. Who knows? With a little tweaking, the introverts may not hate talking on the phone quite as much.
Lisa Petsinis is a certified coach and a certified Myers-Briggs® type indicator practitioner. Contact Lisa if you’d like to discover your type and learn how you can use it to enrich your life, starting today. You can also sign up for Lisa’s newsletter for even more advice.
Written by Lisa Petsinis