7 Phone Tips for Introverts

Who else besides me jumps out of their skin when the phone rings? It’s pretty much NEVER a good time for me to answer the phone. I’m ALWAYS in the middle of doing SOMETHING, whether it be working, spending time with someone, sleeping, eating, driving, exercising, watching TV, reading, or relaxing.

I’ve noticed, though, that it’s also pretty much never a good time for ME to call YOU! You are either not home, and I have to leave a message, or I am calling you on your cell and you are in the middle of working, spending time with someone, sleeping, eating, driving, exercising, watching TV, reading, or relaxing. By the way, I beg of you not to answer my call if you are driving, or eating with other people in a noisy restaurant. Seriously?

To those who say that calling is always better than emailing, I say: Better for whom? If I call with a quick question, and you actually answer, and we resolve the issue with minimal chit chat, then great! But how often does that happen? If I have to leave you a phone message, I might as well have written you an email, no? At least that way you can answer it thoughtfully, at your leisure, and we’ll both have a record of the exchange. Introverts are often more comfortable expressing themselves in writing. I know I am. What about you?

Yes, of course, it depends on the nature and urgency of the topic! Even so, I prefer texting for quick confirmations and such. And, yes, emails can get lost in cyberspace and overlooked in over-stuffed email inboxes. But so can phone messages. Sometimes your voice mail box is full and I can’t leave a message anyway! At least if I haven’t heard back from you via email I can re-send the message and ask, “Did this get lost in cyberspace?” This gives you an easy out and allows us to continue the conversation where we left off. If it were an urgent matter I would have called.

Since it’s hardly possible to be functional and social today without a phone, here are my tips for introverts who aren’t crazy about them:

  • Turn your ringer off. Yes really. Why not? Especially while you’re trying to focus on something. I suggest this to clients as a productivity technique. This is why God created Caller ID and Voice Mail! You may disagree, but I say that even if you have little kids in school you can turn your ringer off for an hour to work on an important project. Most likely, nothing will happen during that time. If something does happen at the school, your kid will be taken care of until you check your messages and get yourself over there. They don’t know what you were doing, and you don’t have to tell them, either. You DO have to check your messages and get back to people, though.
  • Adjust your ringer. If you can’t bring yourself to turn it off, set it to vibrate or find a gentler ringtone (or a louder one, if that’s what you really need). At home I have those cordless phones that come in a set. I select one to ring, and turn the rest of them off, especially the one I’m most often sitting right next to.
  • Schedule your calls. I’m using a scheduling tool called TimeTrade. It’s great! Anyone can schedule time with me, be it a paid in-person organizing session, a coffee date, or a phone call. I decide how much time per week I want to devote to such activities and make myself available when the time comes. I have a scheduling page on my website, but I can also invite someone to schedule a call, inserting the TimeTrade link, via email. Can you call me without scheduling? Of course you can But scheduling reduces phone tag and ensures that I will be available to talk with you at the appointed time. [September 2020 update: TimeTrade worked for me for a long time. Then I switched technologies — phone and computer operating systems — and started having problems. Things change so fast in tech-land that I would not predict that YOU would have a problem, which is why I’m not describing my tech issue in detail. But you should know that I’ve been using Acuity lately. Check them both out!]
  • Batch your calls. If you have multiple calls to make – schedule a medical appointment, ask a billing question, return a call, confirm a lunch date with a friend, etc. — decide when you’re going to make them and make them all at once to get them over with. Gather the pertinent info into a “To Call” folder so it’s handy when the time comes. Allow yourself extra time for annoying automated phone systems and long wait times. Grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable. Or, if you are nervous about making calls, try making them standing up. I make notes about what I want to remember to say or ask, and stand at my kitchen counter with the notes in front of me. It also helps to keep the calls short!
  • How does your phone sound? One of my phone issues is sound quality. I’m getting older, so my hearing is starting to be a candidate for suspicion, but I’m pretty sure the real problem here is that newer technology, while clever and ubiquitous, has inferior sound quality. Not to mention crummy and dropped signals. If the call is scheduled in advance I have a better chance of using the phone I prefer, in a location where I am comfortable talking, and I’ll have my ear buds handy.
  • You don’t have to give everyone your cell phone number. Well, if you’ve given up your landline you might. In my case, the whole world has my home number because I am self employed and it is published on my business cards, website, etc. But only a handful of people have my cell phone number. I try to make them understand that my phone is always on “silent”, and that I rarely use it for actual talking but they sometimes forget. That’s OK as long as I check my messages and get back to them.
  • Humor them. If you have clients (or family, or friends) who REALLY prefer a phone call over an email, and you REALLY want to work with them (or maintain a relationship with them), by all means give them a call. Otherwise, do it your way. Email, snail mail, no mail… Why can’t THEY get used to email? That’s what I’d like to know!

What are YOUR best phone tips?

Please share with us in the comments!

Hazel Thornton is a professional organizer and genealogist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico; creator of The Clutter Flow Chart Collection; and author of Go with the Flow! The Clutter-Clearing Tool Kit for an Organized Life. Visit her online at www.org4life.com.

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  1. Janet Barclay on September 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Hazel, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I don’t turn my ringer off, but I have it turned down pretty low, and I always look at the Call Display (best invention ever!!!) before answering. I rarely pick it up, especially if it’s not a number I recognize, because it’s usually someone looking for charitable donations, political support, payment for a bill incurred by someone with my last name that I’ve never met, or a Microsoft or Google spammer.

    Every once in a while an unfamiliar long distance number pops up and I choose to answer it, and it turns out to be a prospective client. I don’t know how I sense that, but it works out well!

  2. Hazel Thornton on October 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Yes. I don’t think it can even be called screening one’s calls if you can’t tell who it is anyway most of the time. Telemarketers/pollsters/etc. can have 800 (or similar), out-of-state, or local numbers. And many prospective local clients have out-of-state cell phone numbers based on where they used to live. And then there are the people you might pick up for if it were not for the fact that their phone is listed under a relative whose name you don’t recognize. Or lets say you bit the bullet and pick up because it’s an actual name — a potential client? (not just the number, not Private Caller) — and it turns out to be someone you don’t really want to talk to. I could go on….

  3. Ranina on October 2, 2014 at 1:56 am

    The ringing of the telephone makes me cringe. I rarely answer. I do call-screening or let voice mail take care of it. The phone always rings when I am either doing something or trying to relax, preferring not to have any input.

    I especially hate being interrupted by telemarketers, politicians and bill collectors, but I make sure I answer the phone or call back for my immediate family members and close friends.

    I have a land line, as well as a cell phone. I hate the cell phone because of the terrible call quality, dropped calls, battery issues and pricing. I only use the cell for emergencies, call ahead orders while I’m out or calling someone for specific directions to places when my GPS gets confused.

    For me, the phone is a very annoying must-have item. I only give my cell number to people I am very close to or businesses I really need to hear from. Others do not need to be able to reach me at all times. They can wait until I’m at home and available.

    I’m starting a business, so I will have to get a second line for business calls only. I don’t want to have to guess about which calls are business calls and which are not.

    I like texting and email. I guess I’m just not a phone kind of person and I have a terrible time trying to understand why everyone is always talking on one, no matter where they happen to be.

  4. Hazel Thornton on October 2, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Sounds like I’m not the only one!

  5. Matt D. on November 3, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    When the phone rings, my brain stops, then asks, “Who’s this?” and hopes it goes away.

  6. Ruby B on December 6, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Writing. It’s where it’s at.
    I love these blogs, it normalizes what’s introverts preferences. For me it gives me permission to be me and know I am a normal person

  7. Elisabeth on December 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

    100% yes – for reply Ruby!
    I have the same feeling. Thx

  8. introvertblogger on December 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    This so me! I feel like burying my phone 100 feet below the ground. Unfortunately I recently started my own firm and it is a pain to talk to client on the phone. Even worse is making cold calls to prospective clients. You can read more about my journey as an introvert entrepreneur on my blog introvert-blogger.blogspot.in

  9. Mary Toothman on December 7, 2014 at 7:57 am

    spot on I so many ways! However, many of us long ago gave up landlines to save money – who needs them?

    • Hazel Thornton on December 7, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Hi Mary! It’s true that many of us no longer have a landline. But here are some reasons to keep it (did I mention I used to work at the phone company?): 1) Sound quality generally better than with cell phones (and no lost signals), 2) Separation of business line and personal line, 3) Easier for 911 to pinpoint emergency location, 4) Landlines are directly hardwired to the central office, which has back up generators, so phone works in a power outage. (Yes, cell phones might work too…if the cell site is unaffected…until they run out of juice.)

    • Hazel Thornton on July 28, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Ah, I see. This “comment” is a link from a peacelovehawkeyes blog post called “Introverts and telephone calls”. Thanks for including us! I think your post is addititve to this one.

  10. Mark Murphy on January 7, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    I really appreciate your tip on how standing up when you are making calls can make you less stressed. My wife told me that her new job involves her talking with a lot of people on the phone while in her home office, and she doesn’t know if she can handle it. I will be sure to tell her that she should try and stand up when she is making those calls!

    • Hazel Thornton on January 7, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      I’d love to know how that works for her!

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  13. Jane M Severance on August 25, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Touched on everything I feel! I especially liked the advice on grouping your calls.

    I have one friend who glories in not being able to do anything on her phone or computer and I know we don’t have as much contact as she’d like because of it. I just don’t like to talk on the phone! However, because she is ill and lives far away I don’t want to give up completely. It helps me to be taking a walk while talking to her. (Someplace where it’s just me – I never do it on the track or the Nature Preserve. If I don’t even want to listen to my own call why would anyone else want to listen to it?)

    I also thought the idea of people being able to schedule calls was great. Nothing worse than a professional who you can only get hold of through a call back. Actually changed therapists over this issue.

    • Hazel Thornton on August 26, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Yes, we all have one or two friends or clients where we have to do things their way if we want to maintain the relationship. Jane, I have heard you speak of “phone errands”, and (as you probably already knew) grouping calls is no different from grouping other types of errands based on proximity or driving route. And, in case anyone is reading this and cares (doesn’t seem worth updating the post, since there are so many similar tools), I am now using Acuity rather than TimeTrade.

  14. Connie Johnson on August 25, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    I put my phone on Do Not Disturb, and the only calls that will ring through are my kids and my parents.

    I often forget to take it off that setting for the whole day, lol.

    • Hazel Thornton on August 26, 2019 at 10:16 am

      Good idea. I’m betting nothing terrible has happened as a result. Am I right?

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