8 reasons introverts dread voicemail (and what they wish you’d do instead)

Are you an introvert? If yes, then you know that voicemail can be your worst enemy.

I understand. I’ve been there.

You see that blinking light or notification on your phone and the dread sets in. Who left a message? What do they want? Why couldn’t they just text?

It feels like an intrusion, a demand for your time when you’re not ready to give it. And it’s so frustrating!

You’re not alone in this. Many introverts feel the same way.

We often wish that people would just understand our need for a different kind of communication. Text or email, please!

But alas, the world hasn’t caught up with us yet.

In this piece, we delve into the eight reasons why we introverts dread voicemail, and what we secretly wish you’d do instead.

Let’s dive in.

1) The surprise element

Here’s the thing.

As an introvert, I like to be prepared.

When I see a call coming in, I’m mentally gearing up for it.

But with voicemail?

It’s like a surprise attack!

I unlock my phone, see that dreaded notification and suddenly, I have an unexpected task demanding my attention.

Just last week, I had a day planned out perfectly – some quiet time, a book I’ve been wanting to read, and a warm cup of coffee.

Then, out of nowhere, *ping* – a voicemail notification!

My peaceful day was hijacked by the need to listen to it and possibly respond.

2) The pressure to respond immediately

When you receive a text or an email, there’s an unspoken understanding that you can take your time to respond.

A voicemail, on the other hand, feels like it comes with an invisible ticking clock.

I remember this one time when my boss left me a voicemail after work hours.

Even though it was about something that could wait until the next day, I felt this immense pressure to call back immediately.

My evening plans went out the window because I just couldn’t shake off that nagging feeling.

So yes, the pressure is real and it’s intense!

It’s like living in a constant state of ‘you have one new message’ anxiety.

3) The complexity of decoding vocal cues

Voicemail can be a minefield when it comes to interpreting tone.

Is the person angry, upset, or simply tired?

Without visual cues, it’s hard to decipher.

Research even suggests that humans only get about 7 percent of communication from words, while the rest is from tone and body language.

So, when you leave a voicemail, we’re left analyzing a tiny fraction of the communication puzzle.

It’s like trying to paint a picture with only one color.

Not very effective and often leads to misunderstandings or unnecessary stress.

4) The difficulty in expressing emotion back

There’s a certain comfort in being able to craft a carefully worded text or email response, where we can express our feelings with precision.

Voicemail takes away that control.

The one-sided nature of the interaction leaves us feeling vulnerable, unable to truly convey our emotions.

I once received a voicemail from a dear friend sharing some difficult news.

I felt a whirlwind of emotions – sadness, empathy, compassion – but was unable to express these feelings back to her through a voicemail reply.

A simple “I’m here for you” seemed so inadequate in comparison to what I wanted to convey.

So there it is.

Our struggle with one-sided emotional expression, another reason why we introverts are not big fans of voicemail.

5) The inconvenience of the playback

Let’s be honest, listening to voicemail can be a bit of a hassle.

You have to find a quiet place, and then listen carefully to make sure you don’t miss any important details.

Just the other day, I got a voicemail while I was out grocery shopping.

I had to abandon my cart, hunt for a quiet aisle (which, let me tell you, is quite a task in a busy supermarket), and then strain to hear the message over the store’s background music.

By the time I got back to my shopping, I’d lost track of what I had already picked up and what was still left on my list.

It might seem like a small thing, but these little inconveniences add up and make the experience of receiving voicemails less than pleasant for us introverts.

6) The absence of a paper trail

One of the great things about text or email is that it leaves a record, something we can refer back to.

Voicemail doesn’t offer that luxury.

I remember when I was planning a surprise party for a friend.

I got a voicemail with all the details – date, time, venue – and before I knew it, I had forgotten half of them!

With no way to revisit the message (I mean who has time to transcribe voicemails?), I ended up getting some details wrong.

Trust me, that’s not a mistake you want to make!

7) The lack of control

Introverts love control – over our time, space, and interactions.

Voicemail disrupts that control by forcing us into an immediate conversation without preparation.

There was this one time when I got a voicemail regarding an urgent work issue.

The message was vague and required me to call back for more details.

This put me in a reactive stance, something which could have been avoided if the information was sent via text or email.

8) The anxiety of the unknown

Lastly, there’s an element of mystery with every voicemail that can be anxiety-inducing for introverts.

Who’s it from?

What’s it about?

The suspense can be unsettling.

Just last month, I received a voicemail from an unknown number late at night.

My mind went into overdrive trying to figure out who it could be and what they wanted.

It turned out to be a wrong number, but the anxiety it caused was unnecessary and easily avoidable.

Understanding the introvert’s world

There’s a common misconception that introverts are antisocial or shy.

In reality, they simply process the world differently.

They are inward-looking, gain energy from solitude, and prefer deep and meaningful interactions over small talk.

This doesn’t mean they avoid social interactions, but rather, they approach them differently.

When looking at voicemails through the lens of an introvert, it’s not hard to see why they might be a source of stress.

The unexpected nature of a voicemail, the pressure to respond quickly, and the fear of misinterpretation all clash with the introvert’s preferred way of processing information and communicating.

It’s also worth noting that not all introverts are the same.

While many introverts might dread voicemails for the reasons listed above, others might have different reactions based on their individual personalities and experiences.

The key point here is understanding and respect.

In a world where quick responses are often expected and valued, it’s important to recognize that not everyone thrives in this environment.

Some people need more time to process information and formulate their thoughts.

Picture of Nguyet Yen Tran

Nguyet Yen Tran

Yen is a freelance writer and a researcher specializing in mental health, self-awareness, and psychology. Her hobby is studying human behavior throughout their reaction upon situations. Be sure to check out her other posts on our blog.

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