A familiar ringtone sounds right beside you, and as soon as you register it, panic ensues. Doesn’t matter it’s a call from a distant relative, a potential client or the delivery service – a relentless fear kicks in that doesn’t go away. You try to take deep breaths and calm your racing heart, but it only doubles. You cannot hand the phone to anyone and that’s when you do the inevitable – pick up the call that leaves you sweating for no reason at all.
Does this condition of yours have a name? Or is something that only you battle? Unsurprisingly, several people have phone anxiety. Typically, those who have social anxiety disorder also have phone anxiety. This type of anxiety is associated with making and receiving phones calls. It is characterized by symptoms such as shortness or breath, sweating, a pale look, etc.
Psychologists have addressed the condition as well which is how you know that you are not alone here. However, you should never use phone anxiety as an excuse to stop trying. Though emails, text messages, social media, and several other mediums of communication exist, you cannot forever keep away from phone calls. After all, letting phone anxiety get the best of you can negatively influence your personal and professional lives.
The increase in people who experience phone anxiety
The current generations have started depending on text messages so much so that the number of phone calls they make and receive have reduced greatly. This has left many people afraid of their own ringtones. They do their best to avoid phone calls because of their dependency on texting. And why wouldn’t they?
Text messages shelter people from awkward situations. No odd silences, no extra words to fill the gaps in communication, no fear of uttering the wrong thing. Text messages can be written by pouring in complete thoughts, unlike in the case of phone calls which aren’t thought out in prior. Texts can be edited, re-edited, and given proper attention before being sent. The ease they have provided is making people less habitual of making phone calls.
The possible causes behind phone anxiety
Before you can understand how to help yourself overcome phone anxiety, you need to understand why you have it in the first place. Here are some possible reasons that can be behind your insistent fear of phone calls:
1 – The fear of not knowing what to say
This happens with many people – they don’t know how to keep the communication going and what to say next. Particularly, people who have an introverted nature or cannot categorize themselves as overall great communicators, find themselves in this conundrum. Even more problematic is not knowing how to end the conversation if its going nowhere anyway without hurting the opposite person’s feelings.
2 – The fear of what the other person may be thinking
When you talk face-to-face with someone, you have some idea of their thoughts. This is because their face expressions give away whether the topic needs to be changed or put an end to. On phone calls, this is not possible which leaves many confused. The absence of non-verbal cues makes the whole ordeal stressful.
3 – The fear of being judged
Then there are those people who fear being judged regarding what they are saying, how they are speaking or what they sound like. The pressure is like standing on a stage where all the attention is on you and none is distributed among other people and things. As a result, many strictly monitor their words and talking manner. But while they are paying attention to themselves, they are unable to give enough of it to the person on call which leaves them distracted and behind the convo.
4 – The fear of talking within a particular time
Text messages are easy. Conversations don’t get dragged and you say what you need to say within a few carefully typed out lines. In the case of phone calls, you are under time pressure. You have to use minimum time to say all the right things. This means your word choice needs to be smarter and clearer. For some folks, this can be a problem.
5 – The fear of embarrassing yourself
When a person has a particularly bad phone call experience he may try to avoid phone calls in the future altogether. For instance, someone who messed up a phone interview with an employer or someone who got rejected on call. A bad experience can impact another until one starts fearing talking on phones altogether.
6 – The fear that exists because you don’t do it much
A lot of people also struggle with talking on the phone because they are not used to of it. Lack of practice and too much dependence on texting for communication leaves them feeling unprepared for the experience. Overthinking about the scenario negatively further worsens the whole idea of talking on a phone for them.
Treatments for phone anxiety
There are two routes from which you can choose – you can either go for cognitive behavioral therapy or self-help. Even if you choose the former, you will have to invest in the latter. Talking about self-help, you need to practice. You ought to make yourself comfortable with talking on phone calls which will help beat the anxiety of doing so out of you.
Start by making your own calls to order pizza or any type of services. Contact the customer support teams of companies and ask relevant questions. You can then move on to calling people that you know well. Start with making calls alone. Then move on to talking on the phone in front of another person and next, in front of a group of people.
How to make it easier
Phone anxiety can be very limiting, and many people try to put of self-help for as long as they can. Whether you are practicing or prepping up for a call, here are some ways you can cope with the issue:
1 – Prepare for the phone call
Don’t just rush into the call. This is particularly advised for people who have to engage in professional conversations. From planning how to greet, make random conversation to making notes about what content needs to be discussed, prepare in prior.
2 – Think positive
People who struggle with anxiety tend to visualize the various negative outcomes that can come out of a situation. This can defeat them even before their phone starts ringing. The best way to do it is to think positively and imagine a smooth and positive conversation.
3 – Smile before
Before you pick up the call and when you begin the conversation, try smiling. This act will not only make you feel better. It will also leave the opposite person feeling more comfortable as you will sound more pleasant.
4 – Make sure you’re well slept and fed
Sleep can interfere with your mind’s ability to concentrate. This can also trigger anxiety. Moreover, you are likely to feel irritated or distracted if you are too hungry. Therefore, always make sure you have slept enough and have eaten your fill before an important call.
5 – Get comfortable
Before an important phone call, make sure you are comfortably seated. For people who are already anxious, if they are not comfortable enough their voice can deliver how they feel. Be sure you don’t feel too hot or aren’t sitting in a position that is far from comfortable.
Phone anxiety is not something that you are the only one dealing with. Most people with social anxiety disorder also have phone anxiety. Psychologists think its text culture that has made phone calls so foreign to a huge part of the younger generation. However, you shouldn’t let this fear of attending and making phone calls overwhelm you. Continuously practice to get comfortable with phone calls. Not doing so can adversely effect your personal and professional lives.