What’s your biggest fear?

Everybody has something.

Until recently, I used to think that I didn’t. But well, I do:

Talking on the phone with strangers.

That’s it. And I’m not joking.

I get this intense fear every time I have to call up someone I don’t know.

A couple of days ago, I had to call the gas company to set up my registration for gas and electricity for the new apartment and I wept. I did. Big time. Like a baby.

I am fine talking face-to-face with strangers. I am great at public speaking. I know how to hold an audience. How to shut them up and make them listen.

But I’m crap on the phone.

I either don’t understand them, or they don’t understand me, or both.

And it doesn’t matter what language the conversation is in. English or Thai. Doesn’t help.

How I realized this was when I had to call this biggest oil company in Thailand to arrange a meeting with one of the executives of my company. And also when I had to phone 12 resorts around Thailand to ask and arrange a seminar trip for 30 staff.

I took at least five minutes to breathe and come to terms with the fact that I really had to do it, before I actually picked up the phone.

It’s traumatizing and it doesn’t get better.

What I realized helps is to write the whole script down before I call them. Write exactly what I have to say, word for word. Then read.

But the problem of not understanding them persists.

I’ve learned about phobias in psychology class in high school. They described it as intense irrational fear. Does this mean I have phoneophobia or something?

I have to do a research, maybe there’s an actual term for that.

Update: My friend said that people on the other side of the phone could and probably would not harm me. That they couldn’t possibly reach over to bite me. And if they really wanted to hurt me, it would cost them too much to plot this CIA-like plan that might include CCTV cameras, well-trained spies, secret codes, professional detectives, and highly classified weapons. And they probably wouldn’t care enough to spend a fortune on that just to get me. With which I agree completely. And this only supports the existence of the word ‘irrational’ in the description of this fear of mine, which classifies it as a phobia. So my hunch was probably correct.


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