Every time the phone rings, you can’t help but get this sinking feeling in your gut even before you check on the caller ID. The anxiety that came with answering and picking phone calls for me was so bad that my doctor diagnosed it as a phobia. There were days I’d make sure the phone was off or at least silent in case there were urgent matters I needed to know.
Explaining my fear to some friends and family members was nearly impossible. They could never understand why a grown man was so afraid of a little phone, and that did very little to help me deal with the issue. So if you have phone anxiety and don’t like having to explain to people about it, I know what that feels like!
What is Phone Anxiety?
According to research, phone anxiety is a fear that affects people with or without a social anxiety disorder. When you have social anxiety, the thought of communicating with people, in general, is tough; both in person and over the phone. When you’re okay with social interactions but have some fear of phone calls, it could be because you prefer direct conversations and you can’t have that with phone calls.
These are some of the symptoms that show you have phone anxiety before or after making that phone call:
- You worry about what you will say, or you obsess about what you said
- You worry that you will embarrass yourself
- You worry that you are bothering the person you want to call
- You overthink the phone call that you delay making it
- You prefer to avoid making or picking the phone calls
- Calling or picking phone calls fill you with anxiety
- When you are on call, about to call or after the phone call you have little concentration, you feel shaky, nauseous, or you feel your heart racing
How To Get Over Phone Anxiety
Avoiding the phone will do nothing to help you in the long run. After all, we are social beings, and you cannot cut off communication for good. Besides, phone calls could be work-related or concern urgent discussions that you have to handle.
First things first; you need to get to the bottom of your phone anxiety. What exactly makes you so terrified of picking or making phone calls? Is it social interaction, fear of embarrassing yourself, understanding phone etiquette, or something else?
Once you understand your reason for phone anxiety, you can start by reminding yourself of the successful times you’ve had with phone calls. Remember that you are not weak or silly for feeling anxious; many other people are dealing with it too. The minute you easier on yourself and push forward with positivity, you can find yourself making huge strides you wouldn’t have thought possible.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Sometimes, phone anxiety can be serious enough to affect your professional and personal life. Your boss may not be so understanding about your situation. Other people marveling at your inability to perform a seemingly simple task can make you feel defeated and even more closed off – and this is where cognitive behavioral therapy comes in play.
You can combine CBT with self-help techniques for even better or faster results. CBT combines cognitive rearranging and exposure training. Here’s what they do:
- Cognitive rearranging involves careful consideration of the current fears and beliefs you hold and replacing that negativity with constructive options. For example, if you are worried that you are bothering the person you are about to call, or whether they aren’t interested in talking to you, cognitive rearranging will help you consider that they the person picked the call because they wanted to hear what you have to say
- Exposure training involves getting you to start making or picking the phone calls gradually. You start with something easier, like calling a close friend or family, then slowly graduating to the phone calls you find most difficult (like work calls, social calls, or calls involving extensive discussions or topics you find complicated)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is valuable because you have a professional helping you through the process. However, you can still do it all on your own if you have no access to CBT assistance.
Smile before you pick or receive a call (does wonders to the brain and can help you relax), visualize a successful phone call, and reward yourself after completing a call!
Sometimes all it takes is some faith in yourself. You can always ask the other person if you are calling at a bad time, and if you’re not up for phone calls, you can let them go to voicemail every once in a while.