Do you struggle with phone anxiety and a fear of talking on the phone?
Although e-mail, text and messaging have grown massively in recent years and can be incredibly useful, most of us at some point in our work, family and social lives are going to need to answer a phone call or make one.
If you struggle with a fear of talking on the phone, what may look easy to others, can become a source of huge anxiety, worry and concern.
So in this article I’ll be covering how you can conquer your phone anxiety and overcome your fear of talking on the phone.
For many people who worry about phone calls, there can be an overlap with other social anxiety symptoms.
I know when I struggled with social phobia, the prospect of answering a call when others could overhear me would fill me with dread. In fact, if I could get away with it when I worked in an open plan office, I would turn the ringer right down so no-one would know I was avoiding taking the call. I would then either find a quiet time or office to call back or hope that they would e-mail (which felt far safer as a communication method).
As well as other people overhearing you and thinking you are an idiot, the other thing about phone calls of course which can ramp up that anxiety and worry, is that you can’t see how the other person is responding. There is no facial or body language feedback which to anyone who is generally self critical, can lead to all sorts of imagined ‘mind reading’ into what the other person is really thinking about you.
I’ve helped hundreds of people to overcome their anxiety and increase their confidence and self-belief and, given how prominent phones are in our everyday lives, it can be fairly common for a fear of talking on the phone to be included in that anxiety mix.
Sometimes it can be related to calls with large numbers – such as clients who need to give presentations over the phone or be engaged in phone conferences. At other times it can be anxiety about any calls – even those to and from friends and family.
Some of the more common elements tend to be:
And of course there can be many variations of these that involve that anxiety, worry, dread and fear around talking on the phone.
Given how important communication is, a fear of talking on the phone can hinder your career, relationships and friendships, it cause delays and missed opportunities and there is that constant dread that at any time the phone might ring…so it make senses to conquer all those thoughts and feelings doesn’t it?
If you’ve been avoiding talking on the phone as much as possible up until now then you may have noticed how your fear and dread have simply increased. So now is the time to draw a line and learn how to relax on the phone using these strategies:
1. Make It Easy on Yourself
When someone learns to swim they start off in the shallow end where they feel safe and in control. Gradually, as their comfort and confidence increase, they go into the deeper end.
And in just the same way, start off with some ‘easier’ calls. For many that will be to family and friends and that’s fine. Perhaps you could call a friend to confirm what time you are meeting up rather than texting, maybe you phone a shop you need to go to and ask the closing time.
You don’t have to dive feet first into the deep end (like having to phone your boss and explain why your project is £500,000 over budget…). Keep it simple, make a quick call to someone every day and very soon your mind will get the message that there is nothing to be feared.
2. Connect to Calm
When you tense up and feel anxious, you may feel like your heart is racing, your breathing shallow and your throat and voice constricted. And the more anxious you feel, the less you can think logically and with clarity to talk to someone.
So use the reverse of this to feel more calm and in control when you make and receive calls.
3. Speed Dial To Success
Instead of habitually feeling anxious about speaking on the phone, you need to teach your mind to associate being on the phone with feeling calm and comfortable.
So take some time to mentally rehearse or imagine talking on the phone feeling calm, confident and relaxed. Make sure you relax before you think about it so your mind starts to link feeling calm with thinking about talking on the phone. Listening to my Creating Calm audio is a great way to feel calm while you do this.
So whether you need to make a specific call or you picture being on the phone more generally, imagine watching yourself smiling, flowing and calm whilst making and receiving calls. Even include a sense of knowing that whatever comes up on the call, you can deal with it calmly and confidently.
The more you rehearse success in your mind, the more automatically you will find yourself calmly and successfully talking on the phone.
To your success,