IF you’re someone who is comfortable chatting on the phone then you will perhaps be shocked to learn that a significant percentage of the population is “telephobic.”

This is the fear of talking on the phone and, according to a new survey by one of the UK’s leading phone answering services Face for Business, it’s a real thing.

Their survey of 500 responders (not huge but significant) in businesses showed that 62 per cent of office-based employees have reasons for experiencing anxiety before answering the phone.

The top reasons were concerns about not knowing how to deal with a query (33 per cent), anxiety about “freezing” on the phone (15 per cent), thoughts that the person on the other end could think negatively about them (nine per cent) and sounding “strange” when speaking (five per cent).

Now, while some of those reasons sound a bit weird, it’s possibly easy to understand the majority because the less you speak on the phone the more difficult it becomes to actually do it.

According to this survey, there were also fears around confrontation, being overheard, and having no paper trail to back up conversations – a completely understandable reason.

Those born between 1981 and 1996 are, says the survey, the most telephobic and may go out of their way to avoid answering office phone calls.

I suppose that the rise in texting, social media and easy communication through What’s App, for example, means having to actually speak on the phone isn’t normally something they need to do.

The parents of any teen will know anyway that the prime communication is a grunt, a raised eyebrow or a quick expulsion of breath.

Some millennials apparently feel “ambushed” by an incoming call because it comes across as “intrusive”. They have grown up with a more digitised and less direct form of conversation so a phone call feels “alien”.

There are many of us who still believe that the best form of communication is face-to-face. People can see your expressions and understand what you have to say far better by the way you deliver it.

The phone is probably the next best – speaking, not emailing or texting.

This allows for immediate response to a question or statement. It makes you think on your feet, offers a quick answer and allows for a proper discussion. There is also a feeling of knowing the other person that digital communication doesn’t give in the same way.

Chatting with someone is also vital for humans of all ages to prevent becoming isolated, lonely, out of touch and remote. Just texting or emailing generally provides flat answers or comment which even adjectives, capital letters and exclamation marks cannot improve.

Anyone who feels completely at home chatting on the phone to family and friends will find the word “telephobic” like a foreign language but I’m sure it can genuinely hamper careers and cause problems for individuals.

Like many things, direct action and facing this worry head-on is the effective way to fix it.