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I’m nervous about answering calls at my new workplace

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company worker in my mid-20s. I recently changed jobs after I married a colleague at my previous workplace. At my new job, I have to answer many phone calls, which is tough for me.

Answering phone calls was assigned to a designated employee at my previous workplace. At my new place, there’s an unspoken agreement that new employees should answer calls, so I sometimes answer as many as 20 calls a day.

With each ring, I feel nervous and intimidated. It’s also distracting, because I have to stop my work each time. When I can’t answer calls quickly, a senior colleague sometimes answers the phone. But nobody is willing to do it for me.

I understand answering calls is important for new employees to learn about the business ties at their workplace. At the same time, I want to learn about my regular work as soon as possible. I should probably continue answering calls, even though my workload will increase. I’m so unhappy about it.

I can’t discuss this matter with my boss, as I’ll probably just be told that I’m being very unprofessional, which will result in a low rating for my work performance. How should I cope with this frustration?

S, Tokyo

Dear Ms. S:

Your letter is full of your enthusiasm for building your career.

As you said, answering calls at work is stressful and distracting. But this work can help you learn about your company’s business ties. You can also train yourself as a good human resource by sincerely listening to and answering the caller. You do this up to 20 times a day. You communicate with each caller only by voice, so you probably make a lot of effort to envision what they’re like and not offend them.

Recently, even people in the same workplace tend to communicate via email, as they can’t be bothered to meet in person or make a call. This will just weaken human relationships.

As a newcomer at your current workplace, you should learn a lot while you’re at the bottom of the ladder. Improve yourself by answering calls. Smile over the phone when you thank a caller. People who are nice over the phone are attractive when talking to them in person. I’m certain you can become more appealing through this experience.

Akemi Masuda, sports commentator

(from March 10 issue)Speech

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