How to Get Rid of Phone Anxiety
Are you struggling with phone anxiety? It’s been speculated that rates of phone anxiety are on the increase because the phone is being used less and less. Whether your phone anxiety is a standalone fear or part of a larger problem of social anxiety, there are ways to get past your fear.
In general, the best way to overcome phone anxiety is to get more practice using the phone. However, in cases of severe social anxiety, dealing with that problem first will help reduce phone anxiety.
I know that phone anxiety can feel overwhelming, but I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to get past this fear. In this post, I’ll share some concrete strategies that you can put to use right away.
How to Overcome Phone Anxiety
Below are several different strategies that you can use to get over your phone anxiety.
Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
What sorts of thoughts run through your head when you need to make or answer a phone call? If you are anxious about making calls or answering the phone, chances are that you have some of the following thoughts:
- Nobody really wants to talk to me on the phone.
- I bother people when I call them.
- I always make a fool of myself on the phone.
- People can tell that I’m anxious on the phone.
- I never know the right things to say.
- There are too many awkward pauses.
In reality, those thoughts are not objective truths. It’s entirely possible that other people do enjoy talking to you on the phone and don’t notice that you are awkward or anxious.
Regardless of this, whether they are correct or incorrect, does thinking those thoughts help you feel more confident or at ease on the phone? I didn’t think so.
If you want to reduce your phone anxiety, you’ll need to start telling yourself different things about the phone. Below are some ideas:
- People might like to hear from me.
- People who care about me will not be bothered when I call.
- Lots of people are awkward on the phone. It’s not a big deal.
- My anxiety is more obvious to me than the other person.
- I don’t always have to say the right things.
- Silence is okay. It doesn’t have to be awkward.
Try writing in a journal about your phone anxiety. What types of things do you tell yourself? What beliefs do you hold about the telephone? What could you tell yourself instead?
Get Some Practice
Start by creating a list of the phone calls you fear most, starting with the least anxiety-provoking and going up to most anxiety-provoking.
Then, one by one, start going through this list and tackling each item until you can do it without feeling too much anxiety. The more you do something, the less hard it will eventually be.
Below is an example, but you should create one for your own situation.
- Call and order pizza.
- Call and make an appointment.
- Call a family member to talk for five minutes.
- Call a friend to talk for 10 minutes.
- Make a call in front of one other person.
- Make a call in front of a group of people.
If your main fear is answering calls, you’ll need to get creative. Make a list of phone calls that you receive, from least anxiety provoking to most anxiety-provoking. Try answering the easiest calls first (whatever that is for you) and let the rest go to voicemail. Then, work your way up to the harder ones.
Instead of imagining everything that is going to go wrong, put yourself into a positive frame of mind.
- Visualize phone calls going well.
- Smile as you are talking to convey a positive aura.
- Prepare for the call, but don’t obsess over it or practice what you are going to say.
- Make a list of important points so you don’t forget what you wanted to say.
- Come up with a positive mantra such as “Phone Warrior” or “Phone Ninja.” Yes, those are cheesy so think up your own alternative.
- Cut yourself slack if phone calls don’t go well.
- Realize that if others judge you, that reflects more on them than it does on you.
If physical symptoms are your main issue on the phone, spend five minutes doing some relaxation exercises before you make a call. Breathe deeply, relax every muscle in your body, and picture a tranquil scene. When you feel relaxed, dial the phone before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it.
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If you’d like to learn more about how to generate the relaxation response, I have a whole post about how to practice progressive muscle relaxation.
See a Professional
Sometimes, phone anxiety is part of a bigger problem with social anxiety. If that is the case for you, it might be worth reaching out for professional help. Therapy is now more accessible than ever through online platforms such as Betterhelp. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone in this issue. Lots of other people have similar fears about using the phone.
(Watch the Youtube video below for tips on managing social anxiety on the phone from clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Duff)
What Is Phone Anxiety?
Phone anxiety refers to the fear of making or answering phone calls. This fear can range from mild anxiety to absolute panic and physical symptoms.
Although telephone phobia can develop at any age, most people report their first experience of it in childhood and adolescence.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 12% of the population will have a specific phobia throughout their lifetime (phone phobia being one type). Specific phobias are also more common in women than in men.
Phone anxiety can cause problems for you both in your personal life and at your job (if you must use the phone). You might fear certain things happening (mind going blank, voice shaking), which leads to avoidance of phone calls. Unfortunately, this avoidance only prolongs your fear and makes it worse.
Other forms of avoidance include procrastinating or choosing other methods of communication when the phone would make more sense. For example, sending a text or email when a phone conversation would have been quicker or more efficient.
Phone Anxiety Symptoms
Phone anxiety symptoms can be both physical and cognitive (your thoughts).
Physical symptoms include the following:
- shortness of breath
- a racing heart
- trouble concentrating
Cognitive symptoms include the following:
- procrastinating about making calls
- over-rehearsing what you will say
- excessive self-consciousness
- fear of embarrassing yourself
- “blanking” out
- feelings of panic
What Causes Phone Anxiety?
There are many possible reasons why you might have phone anxiety. Below are some potential causes of your phone fear:
- You struggle with not being able to see the other person and read their facial expressions.
- It feels weird to talk to someone without being able to see them.
- Silence feels awkward to you because you can’t see what the other person is thinking.
- You’re an introvert and don’t like the pressure of immediate conversation. You’d rather think about your responses, which you can do by email or text.
- You have social anxiety that makes you feel as though you are being judged on the phone.
- You have performance anxiety and feel anxious when you have to speak on the phone in front of other people.
- You have had bad experiences in the past on the phone and those memories are brought up when you try to make phone calls.
- You are neurodivergent (ADHD, autism) and have trouble following conversations in general.
Have you experienced phone anxiety? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.
Related Articles about Phone Anxiety
- How to End a Conversation (in 6 Easy Steps)
- 17 Things Nobody Realizes You Do Because of Social Anxiety
- 7 Types of Social Skills Training Programs
How to Overcome Phone Anxiety
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