‘The Phone Lady’ is making bank by helping break young people of phone phobia

Whether a byproduct of the coddling of a generation or another sign of the damaging effects of ever-advancing technology on society, one woman, dubbed The Phone Lady, has found a niche market charging nearly $500 an hour helping clients with their less than unique anxiety.

The prevalence of smartphones has not only limited the once common usage of landlines, it has also continually chipped away at the frequency with which people actually speak telephonically. As Gen Z has been raised in an environment where texting has nearly always been a readily available form of communication, Mary Jane Copps began a consultancy 16 years ago to tackle the “scary” process of talking to people on the phone.

The Phone Lady works with individuals and companies, and Copps explained to Business Insider, “Gen Z have never had the skills given to them. In my generation, the phone was on the wall in everyone’s house, and we were taught to answer it and make calls at a young age. Now we have several generations that were never taught anything about talking on the phone, and people have removed phones from their homes.”

To teach those skills, the outlet detailed charges at “$480 an hour for one-on-one coaching and $365 for 30-minute webinars as part of a seven-part program. For corporate workshops, the daily rate is $3,500.”

“If they’re not even used to talking on the phone to their mother, then the process is so scary,” Copps contended. “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.”

As part of her process, The Phone Lady explained that she will attempt to find the root of the anxiety for her client and expressed, “A common fear is what if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer.”

Alison Papadakis, director of clinical psychological studies at Johns Hopkins University seconded the findings and told Insider, “Gen Z and millennials have a lot less experience talking on the phone because texting and instant messaging have been the primary communication mode for their generation. Since they have a lot less experience talking on the phone, they have less comfort with it. That sets up people who are vulnerable to social anxiety to have anxiety in that situation.”

Though Copps didn’t suggest where the more than 700 clients she has worked with since 2006 might have developed that fear, she did explain that to break them off it she would arrange windows of time where she might randomly call them to work on speaking over the phone. Additionally, she explained, “I often say, ‘For the next three days, I don’t want you to text anyone,’ and tell them to call their friends and family.”

“You can’t build a relationship by email because it’s not back and forth and you’re not hearing each other’s tone of voice,” she added and highlighted calls are “crucial in order to express interest and enthusiasm.”


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