This woman makes a comfortable living helping young people overcome their fear of talking...

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,683   +175
Staff member
In a nutshell: Smartphone ownership has reached near ubiquity in many parts of the world. Ironically, their prevalence has resulted in a large number of smartphone users that never developed the core skill of actually speaking to others over the phone because most of their exchanges with friends and family happen via text messaging.

Mary Jane Copps picked up on the shifting landscape 16 years ago and launched a consulting company called The Phone Lady to help businesses train their staff on telephone etiquette.

"Gen Z have never had the skills given to them," Copps told Insider.

Before smartphones, landline phones were as common in homes as televisions and microwaves. Kids learned at a very young age how to place and receive calls, and anxiety about talking to the person on the other end of the line was quite uncommon.

Despite growing up during the rise of smartphones, younger generations tend to have far less experience talking on the phone because instant messaging and texting have been their go-to method to communicate with others.

"Since they have a lot less experience talking on the phone, they have less comfort with it," said Alison Papadakis, director of clinical psychological studies at Johns Hopkins University. "That sets up people who are vulnerable to social anxiety to have anxiety in that situation," Papadakis added.

Copps is capitalizing on the opportunity at hand, charging $480 an hour for one-on-one coaching sessions and $365 for 30-minute webinars that are part of a seven-lesson series. Corporate workshops are priced at $3,500 per day.

Copps said she often has new clients start by not texting anyone for three days. Instead, they are instructed to call friends and family if they want to chat or have a question.

"If they're not even used to talking on the phone to their mother then the process is so scary. So I can't say I'm going to make them call prospective clients as they would just fall apart — we start with their family or someone they know."

Copps will also call clients randomly throughout the day during training to practice conversations and build improvisation skills. She said many of her clients are start-ups and those operating in the financial sector. In these fields, it is critical to be able to build a relationship with a client beyond email where elements like the tone of a person's voice can't be properly conveyed and thus, crucial context clues like interest or enthusiasm are missed.

Image credit: Roman Ska, Pradamas Gifarry, Andreas Klassen

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Posts: 1,505   +1,090
I used to run an accommodation business for overseas people - many young - Lots of them will actively avoid phoning - even if free - they could literally be in their room wanting another night - and book it again with the App for that - taking away15% to some ticket clipper.
They could even be in a car outside and make the booking on a website - instead of walking into reception.
No wonder you see the rise of invisible staff accommodation - door codes to phone etc .
This accelerated in the last 5 years.

The problem is not the 15% - but flexibility for groups - an experienced receptionist can help weird bookings 3 people arriving today - extra person arrives tomorrow - or we just want an extra bed put in for one night etc etc

Plus with a phone you may get cheaper or resolve something quickly- However emails are great for people you don't trust for legal reasons


Posts: 4,112   +7,327
Parental failure. Kids need to be taught.
Their parents are too busy finding new things to be offended at on Twitter.

This is the end result of eliminating the pressure to be responsible upright people. You get generations that rely on nannies to do everything so they can continue being children well into their 30s.

Just wait until these people get to retirement age.


Posts: 1,294   +2,080
TechSpot Elite
Parental failure. Kids need to be taught.

So much of this. Don't blame the kids who weren't taught as they should have been. That's not their job, that's parenting.

Sometimes it's incredible how many toxic comments towards zoomers for lacking life skills there are... Made by the generation parenting them in the first place.

Maybe if you had made Timmy put his tablet down at the dinner table and forced him to engage in real conversation at a young age, he wouldn't need $500/hr lessons of how to be a human being. Instead you fed your kid the tablet so that they would shut up and you didn't have to parent.