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Anxiety Makes Me Avoid This Important Task at Work


Phones. Phones. Picking up and calling people.

I my line of work, I often have to speak to clients. I have to pick up the central phone line and also dial others. This is one of the areas of life where my social anxiety acts up.

Usually, this is what it looks like: The telephone rings, loudly. I quickly hunch myself up and look at documents or turn to the side, anything to broadcast to the world that I am currently busy. If none of my co-workers take the line, I take it, after much deliberation. I’m not so much afraid of people as I’m afraid of what to say, how to say it and the responsibility of this client’s problem on my head.

One flaw in this is that my boss gets upset if lines are not picked up immediately and I end up feeling guilty. I am, after all, avoiding one of my job descriptions.

Before I call a client, I gather all papers needed, any relevant information so I don’t stay stuck. I outline the potential conversation on a Post-it note. I check again if the question I’m about to ask makes sense.

Then I “find” something more important to do. Action gets delayed for a half a day.

I can’t ignore it forever, so five hours later I gather all again, review again, freeze in front of the machine for a couple of minutes… then I call. Sometimes, people will not even answer. What a waste of time and resources.

Other times, they will and the conversation goes well. Occasionally, I will start stuttering over my words from great anxiety. In
almost all calls, awkward phrases leave my mouth. I kick myself over and over and hope clients are not put off by my non-professionalism. I feel weird around my colleagues. I feel stuck when it comes to calling people.

But I do this day in, day out. It’s a struggle. A necessary struggle.

Getty images photo via Andrew_Rybalko