Is My Millennial Showing?

Embarrassing confession: I don’t know how to use my desk phone.

I wasn’t born yesterday, so before you roll your eyes and go all, “kids these days!” – hear me out. I remember the days of the landline. I used my family’s home phone to call my friends’ houses growing up. I didn’t have a real texting plan until college – and even then, it had a teeny tiny quota (remember sending your one last message of the month after using all of your allotted texts? “DON’T REPLY: I’M OUT OF TEXTS AND MY PARENTS WILL KILL ME.”) Sure, I definitely fall into the Millennial generation. I’m a social media manager – there’s no avoiding it. But I really thought I was savvy enough to figure out a regular phone! I tweet for a living, for goodness sake!

I used to preach to my brother when he started high school about how essential it is to know how to talk on the phone. He’s 7 years younger than I am, and he would text his friends, but would refuse to dial a number. I could see that talking on the phone was becoming a dying art, but thought that it was a life skill he should know. Turns out, I really should have looked in the mirror. My brother is all grown up now, and runs an awesome coffee shop here in town. A few weeks ago, I overheard him on a business call and he was AMAZING. Way more confident than I am! I’ve officially been schooled. (I’ve also never been prouder.)

It’s interesting to me that I am a few steps into my career and this has only just come up. In my past positions at other companies, I’ve had a desk phone, but I only had to use it a handful of times. It was mostly just a thing I had on my desk. At my new job, my phone is essential. My colleagues are spread across the country and I am on calls frequently enough that I require a headset in order to manage my meetings. I had to sheepishly ask for help in order to answer a phone call (I had hung up on my boss one too many times!) I feel like the punchline of a joke: How many Millennials does it take to answer a phone?

My other struggle with the phone, now that I’m working at a large company, is this: I don’t know when or how to speak up in a conference call. Those of you who know me know this – I’m a pretty reserved person. I’m quiet. I was the kid that got called on in high school just because the teacher was curious about what my voice sounded like. (Embarrassing – but true. That actually happened.) The only person who doesn’t think I’m quiet is probably my husband, because I talk his ears off constantly – sorry, Ryan!

My conference call dread is the accumulation of not being able to figure out my phone, being too quiet, and not wanting to interrupt people in order to speak up.  I was raised to respect other people, and part of respecting people is to never, ever interrupt. I stand by that as an adult 100%. It is so rude when people shout over each other in meetings – it makes my skin crawl. How do they live with themselves? This goes against everything I was taught from the time I was in diapers! But that’s how things go on a large conference call, because there are no other social cues for when people can speak because they can’t see each other. I wish everyone could save me from my phone anxiety and simply send an email, or if it’s a smaller group, meet in-person, the really old-school way. Is that too much to ask?

Guys. It is time to face the facts: my Millennial is showing. #yikes.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar predicament, where technology – old or new – has made you feel like a total fool? Come on, make me feel better! Share your embarrassing technology moments in the comments.

In the meantime, I’ll be busy finding some how-to-answer-your-phone tutorials on YouTube…

Until next time,

LL