Some people struggle to make a phone call, no matter how weird or funny it may sound. However, for socially anxious people and some introverts, phone phobia is a reality.
What is phone phobia?
Phone anxiety or phone phobia is a psychological condition in which a person experiences extreme fear when making or receiving calls. Thus, they will find it particularly difficult to make a phone call and will avoid using the phone at all costs.
It seems like phone phobia (caused by social anxiety) is an extremely common psychological problem today. A person who suffers from phone anxiety uses all the possible methods and motives to avoid conversations on the phone in all contexts.
Similarly to the symptoms caused by social anxiety, the sound of a phone can induce panic attacks, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea and palpitations. The seriousness of this phobia leads people to avoid applying for jobs that require contact with other people through phones (i.e. call centres, assistant jobs, etc).
What also aggravates the symptoms of this phobia is the sense of ridiculousness as the sufferer recognises the abnormality of their fear.
The Reasons behind the Phone Phobia
Individuals who are afraid of having phone calls are:
- afraid of being offended over the phone;
- afraid of making grammar mistakes;
- worried about an unpredicted conversation they not be able to control;
- fear of forgetting to say important information;
- worried that they may forget the main purpose of the phone call and risk to embarrass themselves.
How to Deal with Phone Phobia and Finally Make That Phone Call
There are multiple therapies for phone anxiety, and the chosen route depends on the severity of the condition. Some people can follow considerably successful self-help methods or professional help.
Counselling in the form of discussions is not a model to choose. More effective treatments are cognitive therapy, including exposure to the phone, where the affected person is exposed to challenging exercises.
Cognitive restructuring involves challenging the unhealthy thoughts associated with the phobia and their substitution with healthy ways of thinking about the use of phones. Some therapists also apply neurological programming for severe cases.
How to Make a Phone Call Using a 3-Stepped Approach
The fear of speaking on the phone will only end if you find out where the deep fear lies. Only when you understand the root cause of your phone anxiety, you will know how to specifically address it.
For example, say that you are worried about mistakes or unforeseen situations. In this case, when you have to make a phone call, you could approach a plan to combat this fear that would include the following three simple steps:
1. See how other people react when they make mistakes in public.
The best examples you can find if you look at actors, singers and other people who have to perform in front of a numerous audience under huge pressure. You have definitely noticed how your favourite singer has forgotten the lyrics, or how divas have fallen on stage, exposing themselves to a ridiculous situation.
All these celebrities have one way to react in such cases: they continued as if nothing had happened. Sometimes they even make jokes and see the funny side of it.
Another example is when actor Jim Carrey had to present Eckhart Tolle at an event and mistaken the title of his book, saying, “And now I present the author of the book A Good Land. Pardon, A New Earth. But he should have written it though!” He exclaimed, in the ravings of the audience. This leads us to the second step.
2. Understand the psychology of a spectator
First of all, people want you to do well. They do not start a speech with a hidden desire to put you in an awkward situation. In addition, they probably admire you for your presence, ideas, voice, etc.
Secondly, the audience does not care nor puts much emphasis on mistakes all the time. In fact, most people lack good listening skills and listen solely to reply or even think about something completely irrelevant while the other person is talking. This means that if you made a mistake, a good part of the public probably did not even notice it!
Last but not least, people forget. It is not like they will remember your mistake for the rest of their lives.
3. Face your fear
Although it sounds like a cliché, the safest way to defeat any fear, including talking on the phone, is to willingly expose yourself to situations where you have to talk to some people.
Start with small steps. Join a support group for those who are passionate about talking to the public and practice by having a group call. Once you feel a bit more comfortable, start calling your family more often or order food by the phone.
No matter how many “tips & tricks” you may read, nothing can replace the actual experience of talking on the phone. The key is to remember that you are a human being who can and must make mistakes in order to evolve.
Do Not Let This Fear Become an Obstacle!
Being afraid to speak on the phone can affect the quality of your relationships with family members or friends. Also, you risk losing a great professional opportunity you have worked hard for. Hence, it is important to remember that certain fears are only created by our mind and not by real factors.
Don’t let these irrational fears affect your lifestyle or emotional wellbeing. Instead, it is necessary to find the best strategies and treatments to conquer them. With some practice, you will see that you will no longer struggle to make phone calls.
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