Living with anxiety often makes simple tasks difficult, like making and taking phone calls. Learn what phone anxiety is and why we fear phone calls, 4 strategies to conquer the fear and how to take unexpected phone calls. Learning how to overcome some everyday fears will make you feel successful and help you tackle larger tasks.
My brother is an entrepreneur and a mighty good one at that. One of the largest ways he progresses in business is by phone calls. His phone rings all the time, and he always answers. It amazes me how easily he swipes the green accept button and with what ease he speaks to complete strangers.
If you are like me, you dread when the phone rings or when you have to make a phone call.
The funny thing is, I love talking on the phone – to people I know (family & friends). It makes me feel connected and loved. But, if I have to make a phone call I will put it off for days. If my phone rings unexpectedly I often swipe the ignore button and then listen to the voicemail.
In today’s society phone calls aren’t as prevalent as the generation before us. We can text and email, book reservations and appointments online, order takeout, etc. However, phone calls are still occasionally necessary.
What is phone anxiety?
Phone anxiety is a common fear with social anxiety disorder. We do not fear the phone itself, we fear the conversation. We fear judgement from others. When you hear the phone ring your heart might race, palms get sweaty, and your mind floods with a million excuses to give.
Why do we fear making and taking phone calls?
We fear the unknown and the uncertainty. We don’t know what the other person is thinking. We can rehearse what we are going to say but when the other person doesn’t stick to the script we are left hanging.
We also can’t see the person, so we can’t pick up on any non-verbal cues. We have to listen to their voice – and with anxiety, we often interpret tones of voice wrong (cue overthinking!).
With a text or an email, we can edit our writing, form our thoughts more clearly and concisely, and add emojis to portray an emotion. With a phone call we are putting it all out there (and perhaps putting our foot in our mouth) and we can’t take it back. We don’t have the time to form our thoughts, pretty much – verbal diarrhea is happening or complete awkward silence.
How do we get over phone anxiety?
1) Exposure therapy (Ugh). The easiest way to get over the fear is to practice. Make phone calls. Start out easy – start phoning your mom rather than texting. Phone a friend that lives far away rather than emailing or texting. Phone in your delivery food order rather than ordering online. You get the idea, practice, practice, practice.
2) Try cognitive restructuring or shifting the way you look at the phone call. If you’re worried you are going to bother someone by phoning them, rephrase your thinking.
“They would not answer the phone if I was interrupting them?”
“Social media is so prevalent now; the business wouldn’t put their phone number if they wanted to be contacted another way.”
3) Start with a structured phone call (make an appointment, order food). If you think you are going to say something stupid or completely freeze up and not say anything, make a call that is predictable and have a script in front of you.
4) Make realistic goals. If your goal is to not sound nervous – that’s unrealistic (you have social anxiety remember). Instead, try “I will talk on the phone for 5 minutes”.
How to take unexpected phone calls:
1) Start by asking your friends or family to phone you. If your mom texts you every day after work, ask her to phone you. It isn’t unexpected, but you will get used to the phone ringing and answering it (rather than swiping ignore).
2) Ask your friend who lives in another city to phone you once a week. You won’t know when it’s coming, but when it does, it is someone you know and enjoy visiting with.
3) Get caller ID, unknown number display and spam identification on your phone. This will help with the unexpected. When you know it’s spam you don’t need to answer. When you see the veterinary clinic’s number pop up, you are more prepared for what is coming.
fake it till you make it, friends!
~ Lacey ~