Telephone anxiety is a common fear in people with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Many people may not like to call, and may even have “phone phobia”. However, when your hesitation about making and answering calls causes you to experience symptoms such as severe anxiety, shortness of breath, or rapid heartbeat, you may actually suffer from phone phobia.
Illustration by Jessica Olah, VigorTip
Those without SAD may be afraid of using the phone. They may be more comfortable in direct social interaction, which may be because the face-to-face setting allows them to read non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions.
However, those with SAD clearly suffered the opposite. If you are dealing with this situation, the phone fear may reflect the general interaction with other people you are dealing with.
If you feel extreme anxiety before or after interacting on the phone, you may indeed have a phobia. Some emotional symptoms of phone anxiety may include:
- Avoid calling or let others call you
- Delay in making or receiving calls
- Addicted to what was said after the call
- Stress embarrassing myself
- Worry about disturbing others
- Worried about what you would say
Physical symptoms of phone anxiety may include:
- Increased heart rate
The fear of making and receiving calls can ruin your personal and professional life.It’s important to take phone anxiety seriously. Although answering and making calls may seem like simple tasks that everyone should be able to accomplish, if you suffer from phone phobia, this anxiety can be very scary and real.
The treatment of telephobia can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, such as cognitive reconstruction and exposure training. In addition, you can use many self-help strategies to cope with the anxiety of using the phone.
Cognitive reconstruction involves challenging beliefs and replacing negative thoughts with more constructive alternatives.
For example, if you have been worried about disturbing the other person when you make a phone call, cognitive reconstruction may make you consider evidence that this is indeed the case.
If he is too busy, why does this person answer the phone? If he doesn’t want to talk to you, why does he want you to call? In the end, you will conclude that you are unlikely to bother the other person or that he does not want to talk to you.
Exposure training involves gradually practicing more difficult behaviorsIn the case of telephone anxiety, the level of fear may look like the following (listed from easiest to hardest). Each behavior is practiced until you feel comfortable and you can move on to the next most difficult behavior.
Example hierarchy of phone fear
Here is an example hierarchy of people who are nervous when interacting on the phone:
- Calling a number you know will only result in recorded messages, such as customer service hotline
- Call family or friends you know
- Call the business and ask a simple question, such as when will they close
- Call an unfamiliar person with a simple question
- Call unfamiliar people on complex issues
- Make each of the above types of phone calls in front of a person
- Make each of the above types of phone calls in front of a group of people
Your level may vary, depending on whether you find it more difficult to talk to a friend or a stranger, and whether it is more difficult for you to talk on the phone in front of other people.
It may be difficult to create a hierarchy to deal with the fear of answering the phone. If you usually avoid answering calls, one strategy is to use the caller ID unit to identify the caller. Then, you can answer calls from the people you know best, and then transfer other calls to voicemail. Eventually, you will progress to answering more difficult calls.
Ideally, you should practice cognitive behavioral skills under the supervision of a trained therapist. If you cannot meet with a CBT consultant, or if you have already participated in CBT and are looking for other ways to respond, the following strategies may come in handy.
- Smile. Put a smile on your face before making and receiving calls. This may sound stupid, but it can help you relax and convey a pleasant feeling to the person you are talking to.
- Reward yourself. After making a difficult call, spend some time doing something you like to reward yourself.
- The visualization is successful. Imagine a positive conversation, and then it feels good.
- Determine availability. If you are worried about disturbing someone while on the phone, ask if you answer that person at an inappropriate time. If this person is doing something, this gives him the opportunity to call you back.
- Do not think too much. If someone says “no” or rejects the request, please realize that this may be for many reasons that are not related to you. Try not to interpret the behavior of others too much.
- Prepare. Do some preparation before calling, but don’t overdo it. Get a rough idea of what you’re saying, but try to predict that the conversation may not go exactly as you planned. If you need to make important points, be sure to write them down and keep them handy.
- Let it enter the voice mail box. Realize that you don’t have to always answer the phone. If someone calls you at an inappropriate time, or if you are too eager to speak, you can transfer the call to your voicemail from time to time.
- Try another communication method. Telephone may not always be the best way to communicate. If you want to have a digital record of the conversation, or if you want to give the other person time to reflect before replying, email may be a better option. However, if you need to discuss some emotional topic or the topic is complicated, it is best to call or meet face to face.
Very good sentence
Telephone anxiety is difficult, but it can be overcome. However, if you find that your fear of making and receiving calls extends to other areas of your life, and you are generally afraid of social interaction, then consulting a mental health professional may help. If you are diagnosed with SAD, you may be offered treatments such as medication or therapy.