8 Tips For Overcoming Phone Anxiety
Updated August 19, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
Phone anxiety is a common issue for those who have social anxiety. There are many causes of this condition. Science says that many people have this problem due to the lack of being able to read cues such as body language or facial expressions.
Phone anxiety may seem like a silly thing to those who aren't affected by it. For others, it can cause you to shake, have general feelings of nervousness or dread before, during or after a phone call. It can even extend to affect you when text messaging. Texting anxiety can make you feel worried about bothering others or embarrassing yourself as well.
If you think you are being affected by this, there are many things you can do to overcome!
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: Find The Root Cause
If you hope to overcome your anxiety, finding the root cause of your problem is a good place to start. Are you doubtful that you will be able to think on the fly and keep the conversation going? Might there be another underlying issue like social anxiety that's causing your problems?
If you don't have the confidence to feel comfortable talking on the phone, you aren't alone. Many people suffer from this phone phobia. In the digital age, it can be tough to imagine this issue being so widespread, especially since most of us don't go anywhere without our phones glued to our hands.
Remind yourself often that it's OK to take a moment to compose your thoughts, even while on the phone. Pauses are a normal and natural part of spoken language and it's likely that the person on the line won't even realize you're trying to come up with something to say.
Social anxiety and phone fears often go hand in hand. If you are affected by this ailment, you may benefit more from using techniques to alleviate those issues rather than focusing solely on your phone issues. This is because your phone anxiety may actually just be a symptom of your social anxiety, so if you take care of the social anxiety, the issue may resolve as a result.
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: Be Yourself
This may sound like the most generic piece of advice, but it is one of the easiest things you can do to ease your phone anxiety.
The key is to try not to worry what the person on the other end of the phone will think of you, and instead try to focus on simply being yourself. A simple way to do this would be to pretend the person you're talking to is a close friend or family member. Think about what kinds of things you would talk about with these people and implement it into your conversations.
Additionally, remember that the person you are speaking with more than likely knows the person you are and likes that person. It can be easy to get caught up in our own minds and to forget that we are worthwhile people that have valid thoughts and feelings, especially when you have anxiety rearing its ugly head. Remind yourself that you are capable and you will probably notice a big difference on your next phone call.
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: Brush Up On Your Small Talk Skills
If your phone anxiety is still giving you trouble, you might consider brushing up on your small talk skills.
It is all too common that phone anxiety will build up, making it difficult to find words to say when talking on the phone. If this happens to you, asking simple questions about the weather or talking about the latest sports game may help break the ice and lead to a more relaxed conversation.
If you are unsure what kinds of things to talk about, enlist the help of an outgoing friend or family member. Discuss with them the anxiety you've been feeling and ask their advice regarding what kinds of things make good conversation. You could also sit together and practice your small talk. It will make you much more comfortable during your next interaction to have these skills in your pocket.
It may also be helpful to bring up things that the other person is interested in. If you can get them talking about something, they're passionate about, you would be doing more listening, which would lighten your mental load and alleviate any anxious feelings you may be encountering.
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: Power Through
The concept of "fake it till you make it" has been proven to be one of the most valuable tools you can use to overcome your phone anxiety. Even though forcing yourself to make that phone call may be the last thing you want to do, it can often be one of the only things that will fix your anxiety in the long term.
If you are worried about stumbling over your words, you could try writing a script first and using it to hit all the key points you want to discuss over the phone call. If you are worried about not having much to talk about, you could brainstorm before hitting the call button about all the things you can talk about.
Think of these forced conversations as therapy. The more you make the phone calls you don't want to make, the more you will become accustomed to picking the phone up, even when it's difficult. With time, you will learn techniques that feel organic to you to cope with the anxiety you feel when using your phone.
It can also be helpful to set goals for phone calls while you're in a transition. It is important when you choose this route, though, to remember that the goals you set need to be realistic. For example, if you were to set a goal to not feel nervous at all, that may be difficult to do since you have little control surrounding the way your emotions react to stress. Instead, you could make it a goal to bring up at least 2 subjects and speak on them with the other person for 1-2 minutes about each.
As you become more confident, continue to challenge yourself with more difficult goals. At the end of the day, you will thank yourself for your perseverance!
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: Take A Communications Class
Many local community colleges and technical colleges offer communications classes. While these are primarily geared toward people who work in the communication field in jobs such as customer service or public relations, there are many things you could learn that would benefit your anxiety greatly.
Communications class aim to help you learn how to make meaningful connections with others regardless of your reservations about speaking. You will also learn how different people or cultures communicate differently, helping you bridge the gap between yourself and people that have a different background than you.
Since this is a course that is geared toward business professionals, it could also benefit you on a professional front, which is a win-win!
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: Voicemail Is Your Friend
If you're feeling too overwhelmed to take a call, don't be afraid to let it roll to voicemail.
Set up a friendly greeting so that when you forward calls to voicemail, your friends and family will know to leave a message for you to return their call. You may also let the people close to you know that you struggle with phone anxiety so they know to email or text instead and save you the trouble,
When you are feeling less overwhelmed, listening to too many backed up voicemails can cause you further stress. Be sure to take it one at a time and return phone calls at your own pace. The last thing you want is for your efforts to be squashed by taking too much on at once.
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: Send A Quick Text
We all have that one friend that will continue to call over and over when we don't answer the phone. This can cause extreme phone anxiety to even the most reasonable of people.
If you find yourself in this situation, send a quick text to your friend to inform them that you are having a mental situation now. You can explain to them that you are working on overcoming your phone anxiety and need a moment to yourself before you feel comfortable talking on the phone.
Your friend may even continue the conversation through text, saving you from the stress of having to speak on the phone at all.
Overcoming Phone Anxiety: When To Get Some Help
Even with the most honest of efforts, some people will still struggle with phone anxiety. If you find yourself constantly dealing with this issue despite trying these methods, it may be time to hire some professional help.
A trained counselor or therapist can help you to break down the root cause of the phone anxiety. They may also have clinically proven exercises or "homework" that they can give you to help you overcome your anxiety at a pace that you are comfortable with.
With determination, you will be able to overcome your problems. Even if you must get some help involved, the result will be something you are proud of.