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Does hearing the phone ring make you panic? Does the thought of making a call give you cold sweats?
We’re rarely separated from our mobile phones these days, but many people still suffer from a true, deep fear of making a phone call. Recognised as an offshoot of social anxiety disorder, telephobia afflicts people across countries and generations.
Those who suffer from telephobia might be comfortable delivering a talk in a room full of strangers or might send dozens of text messages a day, but get shivers when they need to talk on the phone.
You have to think of things on the fly and you have to respond to what someone is saying to you
“For a lot of people, getting on the phone is a particularly complex interaction,” says Jill Isenstadt, vice president of coaching for Joyable, which offers online therapy. “You have to think of things on the fly and you have to respond to what someone is saying to you.”
Have you managed to counteract telephobia? Share your tips and tricks with us on Facebook.
Technologies that enable communication without directly speaking to someone, have made it easier to mask the problem of telephobia. As a result, the problem has become harder to spot, and there’s no hard data on the prevalence of telephobia. Ultimately, the fear of talking on the phone can have disastrous results for productivity or job mobility.
“We have clients who come in and are held back in their careers because they are anxious about interacting with other people,” says Isenstadt. “They avoid it until it becomes dire.”
Telephobia has been around well before the advent of smartphones. George Dudley and Shannon Goodson wrote The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance in 1986. In his 1929 autobiography, British poet and writer Robert Graves writes about developing a deep fear of using the telephone after suffering an injury while serving in the First World War.
Isenstadt has seen more recent cases of telephobia. The phone produces anxiety in her clients for a variety of reasons.
It’s not about the phone itself, but it’s something about the interaction
“It’s not about the phone itself, but it’s something about the interaction,” she says. “For some clients, the phone is another place where they might say the wrong thing.”
One of Isenstadt’s 27-year-old patients, who works in sales, worries about stumbling over her words or taking too long to respond, making her look foolish in front of clients and colleagues in nearby cubicles.
Another patient, a 52-year-old financial consultant, also worried about being judged and appearing unintelligent during phone calls. Instead, she defaulted to communicating with clients over email so that she could take time to compose and double check her responses.
Sales trainer Jeff Shore says that many sales professionals fear cold calling because they worry about harassing potential clients. As telemarketing took off, the phone started to be seen as a nuisance that interrupted family dinners and other personal time. Shore says that he works with people in sales who worry about “annoying people.”
“Sales people say ‘I don’t want to get those annoying phone calls,’” says Shore. “They say, ‘I don’t want to be that person.’”
Navigating cultural norms
In some cultures, people are apprehensive about talking on the phone, says Michael Landers, global director of Culture Crossing, a consultancy which advises groups and individuals working in a global context.
“In Japan there is a hesitancy [regarding] talking to someone you don’t know — they don’t want to offend someone or lose face,” says Landers. In Indonesia, where the average person sends about a hundred text messages every day, he says people are just less comfortable making calls.
Across cultures, the fear of the phone closely relates to a fear of being rejected, whether that means asking for an appointment with someone or trying to close a deal
Landers says that across cultures the fear of the phone closely relates to a fear of being rejected, whether that means asking for an appointment with someone or trying to close a deal.
“I don’t know a culture that loves rejection,” he says. “It’s just how you define it.”
Working a muscle
Most therapists use an approach rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients overcome their fear of the phone. Isenstadt asks patients to identify the anxious thoughts they have about talking on the phone and walks them through worse case scenarios.
“We’re helping their mind realise it’s OK and not dangerous,” she says. Eventually they build up to making low stakes calls like ordering a pizza.
In trainings, Shore recommends that sales professionals have a concrete plan for how they will start and end conversations. He suggests thinking through how they might be adding value to the person at the other end of the line.
“The key thing is to get the motive right,” he says. When a sales professional starts to see how they are helping potential clients, cold calling becomes easier. “Once you find your worst fears don’t come through, it changes your belief about what a phone call is.” And if they can’t find a way to add value, they shouldn’t make the call.
While telephobia has mainly been studied in sales professionals, it affects people across careers from journalists and public relations professionals to secretaries, lawyers, consultants and anyone else that needs to make and receive calls to do their jobs. Telephobia can even make it hard to get a job when a candidate panics over a phone interview.
Sometimes managers learn to adjust around the habits of their employees.
Molly Irani is director of hospitality for Chai Pani Restaurant Group, which has restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia. She says that out of 180 employees, she can count on one hand the number that will pick up the phone when she calls. Irani says she’s now gotten used to texting employees, many of whom are under the age of 35, instead.
Five ways to master your telephobia
• Think through the worst-case scenario — usually it’s not as bad as you feared.
• Understand why you are making the call. Is it to inform a client or get a key piece of information?
• Plan through both the way you will start and end the call — often it’s hardest to think of a graceful way to exit.
• Start with something low stakes. To practice, make calls like ordering takeout where it’s OK to mess up.
• Know that you aren’t expected to be perfect.
Source: Joyable and Jeff Shore
Irani understands her colleagues’ aversion to the phone. A call, for example, can catch you off guard, when you’re not ready to deal with the conversation. The difference today, she says, is that with so many alternatives to calling, her younger employees can avoid awkward phone situations.
“Many of us have felt that [aversion], but have had to rise above it,” says Irani. “We worked that muscle, but this generation doesn’t have to.”
Here’s how to get your complaint sorted as Martin Lewis warns users to check their bills
If you’ve got a problem with Vodafone then you have the right to get it fixed – we explain
BY TARA EVANS
MILLIONS of Vodafone customers are being urged to check their bills and bank statements for errors, after the company was fined millions of pounds for making mistakes.
The telecoms firm has been fined £4.6million Ofcom because of the way it dealt with customer complaints.
The regulator also said that it misled pay-as-you-go customers, charging them for top-up credit that never materialised on their accounts.
The fine has raised concerned from experts that a large number of customers may still be experiencing problems.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, said that he had already received “thousands of complaints from Vodafone customers” and these were likely to be a “drop in the ocean compared with the amount of people likely affected, as most people don’t rigorously check their bills or tariffs.”
In June, the website issued a Vodafone customers after it uncovered a huge number of problems with billing, incorrect tariffs, customer service and other issues.
It also found that some customers has had their credit score negatively affected.
He added: “It’s pleasing to see that the regulator has caught up, however, that doesn’t change the fact that Vodafone has been mischarging substantial numbers of customers.
“This fine isn’t enough. Actually, the real cost to Vodafone will be fixing the tens of thousands more bills that are wrong and potential ensuing credit score problems. This is a crucial reminder if you’re a Vodafone customer that your bills might be wrong.”
Vodafone is blaming the problems on errors that were made during a complex IT change to its systems – this affected 28.5million customers.
Martin Lewis says the complaints could be just the “tip of the iceberg”
Today it said that it “deeply regretted” the mistakes and apologised to customers.
A Vodafone spokesman told The Sun Online: “Millions of customers went through migration process and were unaffected by problems.
“We’ve seen a drop in complaints of about 50 per cent since last November.”
How did Vodafone break the rules?
The regulator found that it had charged more than 10,000 pay-as-you-go customers for credit but not topped them up. This dates back to a period between December 2013 and April last year.
It paid back the £150,000 collectively lost over a 17 month period to the vast majority of customers.
Ofcom also found that its staff were not prepared to deal with complaints and it did not follow rules on how they should be handled. This relates to the period between January 2014 and November last year.
The £4.6million fine is the biggest ever issued to a telecoms firm. However, the whole sum goes to the Treasury.
The company also made a £100,000 donation to a number of UK charities.
How to complain and get your problem solved
If you’ve got an unresolved dispute with Vodafone – or any mobile provider – then you have a right to get it fixed.
Firstly, complain to the company. Vodafone says that the quickest way to get a complaint sorted is by calling them on 08080 044 900. The number is free from UK landlines and mobiles. You can see more about how to complain to Vodafone on its website.
If you’ve tried this – and you’ve been waiting more than eight weeks – or you’re unhappy with their response then you can take your complaint to the Ombudsman.
You will need to include information about your problem, what you’ve lost in terms of financial loss or distress and what you want them to do to put it right.
Vodafone uses Ombudsman Services: Communications. Its free service will independently review your complaint and make Vodafone sort it out, if they rule in your favour. You can find more information on www.os-communications.org.
The AirSelfie is controlled by a virtual joystick through an app. It has a 5MP camera which can also record HD videos. The mini-drone has already reached its crowdfunding goal and will be available to buy for around £150 from March 2017. Produced by Leon Siciliano
A UK start-up has created a pocket-sized drone that fits in a case along with your smartphone.
The AirSelfie is controlled by a virtual joystick through an app. It has a 5MP camera which can also record HD videos.
The mini-drone has already reached its crowdfunding goal and will be available to buy for around £150 from March 2017.
Produced by Leon Siciliano
Zach Wasser contributed to an earlier version of this story.
iPhone battery life has been the subject of many experiments, articles and arguments, but the mystery behind just how long your phone will last is still a case causing issues worldwide. As expected, the majority of those experiencing poor or unreliable usage times have older (1 or 2 generation late) devices, but even brand new phones can be disappointing when it comes to the power department. The latest iPhone 6S+ claims to last up to 12 hours of constant use whilst performing extremely battery-strenuous tasks such as downloading HD video.
There are a number ways you can improve your battery life significantly, the first being disabling “Background App Refresh”, the option that allows for push notifications and updates to be made in apps whilst they aren’t being used. Disabling background app refresh for an app can cause it to load slightly slower on reboot, but this sacrifice is most certainly worth it. Head to Settings, then General, then select “Background App Refresh”, you can then go ahead and turn off the feature for whichever of your apps you don’t need to refresh in the background.
By default, iPhones running the latest versions iOS will have optional visual effects running on the homepage. These visual effects can be demonstrated by heading to your home screen and tilting your phone, you should see the background moving to show the space normally hidden by app icons. This effect is called parallax and is detrimental to your power levels, so if you want to salvage some extra time you can begin by disabling the feature. To do this head to Settings, General, then Accessibility, from this page you should have the option to “Reduce Motion”. Enabling this will disable parralax on the homepage and a number of other small unnecessary visual effects.
Disabling “Background App Refresh” and enabling “Reduce Motion” are helpful changes and will almost definitely help your phone last at least a little longer, but in a lot of cases its not enough. Users are still seeing their percentage level drop from 50 to 2 in what can seem like an instant, even after settings changes are made! More drastic measures need to be taken…
The next best step (in our opinion) is to sign yourself up for Scanguard, an specialising in removing duplicate files from your phone you never knew you had. Using extremely complicated algorithms, Scanguard’s app can sift through ever single photo on your device… looking for images you don’t need. These could be filtered images, duplicate photos, burst photos or screenshots. Find and delete these and you will clear a suprising amount of memory, allowing more to be allocated to running the phone smoothly.
The software is primarily an antivirus, but it has a array of speed up, optimizing and security tools built right in that can be activated with one tap.
Thousands of people across the globe are all starting to use ScanGuard™ free speed up tool to make sure they keep their phone running as quick as possible. Right now this can be downloaded for free by clicking here.
Even if you have a brand new phone, we would recommend you try letting ScanGuard™ optimize your phone. Simply run a 30 second scan and see for yourself! You’ll be surprised just how many people can significantly speed up their iPhone with just a couple changes.
The security measures taken by the bank themselves are some of the best in the world, their walls are near enough impenetrable! Hackers needed to get smart. In general, the only way you can enter an online banking account by submitting a username, password and giving random characters from your memorable information, so the hackers need a way of stealing this from you. The way this is done in most cases is by using keylogging software, which can record every key stroke you make whilst connected to the internet, recognizing when you connect to a banking site and sending what you type back to the hacker.
Very recently a piece of malware was discovered that affected Android phones and spread through the Google Adsense network (the biggest advertisement delivery network in the world). The “Svpeng trojan” downloads itself, then hides the application it has created on your phone. From then, the malware creates fake phishing browser windows of banking and social media sites, tricking users into supplying their details. Over 15 million websites use Google Adsense to monetize their content, including most of the biggest sites in the world like YouTube and MSN. Most people choose not to protect their smartphone, which can be a grave mistake (especially if you use an Android phone!)…
Protecting your smartphone from malware is just as important as keeping your laptop or home computer safe as the effects can be just as devastating. We recommend PCProtect to all of our readers as a solution to the problems caused by malware on all devices.
With their security suite you can safeguard all of your devices (laptop, desktop, iPhone, iPad, android phone and tablet) with just 1 subscription, which is great for keeping things safe and tidy. Thousands of people across the globe are all starting to use PCProtect™ free analysis tool to make sure they stay protected. Right now this can be downloaded for free by clicking here.
To stay safe while banking online we highly recommend using PCProtect, which will sit silently on your computer or phone and alert you to any threats it detects.
Even if you have a brand new computer or don’t bank online, we would recommend you try PCProtect™ to analyze your PC. Simply run a 30 second scan and see for yourself. You’ll be surprised just how many people have malware on their computers collecting there personal information leaving you at risk of fraud or identity theft.
Click here to download PCProtect™. They are offering a free version of the Antivirus software which for a limited amount of time includes free Speed Boost.