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One in four British adults are too nervous to use the telephone, according to new research. The findings emerged in a study of 2,000 office workers, and shows 28% avoid picking up the phone at all costs.
Most common fears of using the phone at work include never knowing who is on the other end, the worry of being caught off guard and the uncertainty of whether they’ll be able to help whoever is calling.
Indeed, 53% of workers prefer to conduct the majority of their business over email wherever possible, while one in six people choose to ignore ALL incoming calls on the landline at work – unless it is completely unavoidable.
Andrew Goldwater, Commercial Director at business communications firm Daisy Group plc, which conducted the research in conjunction with the launch of its web and audio conferencing solution, said:
“Increasingly, people are shying away from human contact in the office, particularly younger workers, and we’re starting to see the demise of the business landline and traditional office phone as a result.
“Today’s younger office workers are far more tech savvy having been exposed to major advancements in mobile and online communications, which has in turn removed the need to use a traditional communications methods such as the desk phone.”
The survey shows younger workers are demonstrating a real avoidance of personal interaction, with a third of 18 to 24 year olds revealing that they lack confidence on the telephone, compared to one in 10 people over the age of 55.
The same number of young people said they avoided using the landline at work altogether, preferring to interact over email instead.
Across all age groups, a quarter of those surveyed admitted they lack confidence on the phone and as a result, on average, only six calls each day are made from their desk phones.
More a strain than a convenience; a third of people admitted that they use the telephone more in the office than anywhere else simply “because it’s their job”.
Other reasons why office staff avoid using the telephone include:
- Feeling too self-conscious (30%);
- Disliking the possibility of confrontation (21%);
- Assume someone is calling to make a complaint (10%).
A further 34% like to have time to prepare an answer to a query, and don’t appreciate the fact that a landline can catch them off guard.
Interestingly, 16% of people are meant to use the telephone at work more than they actually do; the same percentage however have been caught out by the boss for not using the landline enough.
One in 10 have even received a warning for their reluctance to answer calls, but confidence issues mean that people will go to any lengths to avoid using the telephone.
A third of Brits have pretended reception was bad so they could hang up on someone and one in 10 faked going through a tunnel.
One in five people pretended they had to run into an urgent meeting, while the same percentage claimed they had to pick up another line.
One in twenty people have been so desperate to end a call they have acted out hissing and buzzing noises through the handset, and then hung up.
Andrew Goldwater continued:
“As the technology for personal communications has advanced, so too has it for business communications.
“Web and audio conferencing is one technology that is growing in popularity due to its ability to fuse desk and mobile communications.
“And who knows, perhaps thanks to such technologies we may start to see human contact making a comeback in the office.”
TOP 10 PHONE EXCUSES:
1. “I don’t want to be caught off guard”
2. “I like to have time to prepare an answer”
3. “I don’t know who is ringing”
4. “I might not be able to help the person calling”
5. “I’m simply too nervous”
6. “I’m too self-conscious”
7. “I don’t like the possibility of confrontation”
8. “I can never hear people on the other end properly”
9. “I find it hard taking messages for others”
10. “People are always calling me to complain”