Phone calls can be tough for a lot of people but if you have a phone phobia you might try to avoid them altogether.
Beyond the awkward silences, there’s the fear of not knowing what to say or running out of things that you can say. Your mind is on overdrive and you consider all kinds of dramatic scenarios that will never come to fruition.
Phone calls aren’t always fun – they can cause intense anxiety and stress amongst many people.
Yet there will be times when you have no choice but to make a phone call, such as when you need to make a doctor’s or dentist appointment. You need to be able to make these phone calls with ease because by avoiding making calls altogether, you are actually providing fuel for your phone phobia.
Here are my top tips on dealing with phone phobia.
Write down what you need to say
Even if you have a good memory, it’s likely that you’ll get lost for words at the beginning of the phone call. Writing down your opening sentence helps to relieve some of the pressure as starting the conversation is the scariest bit. Depending on the type of call you’re making, you might want to write down some of the things you would like to cover during the call so you don’t get flustered and forget them. This probably won’t be necessary if you’re making a call to your dentist, but it might be important if you’re calling a family friend or someone who you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
Don’t deliberate for too long
The longer you put off making the call, the harder it will be to eventually make the call. That can be applied to most things.
I used to avoid phone calls as much as possible, in fact, I’d ask other people to make them for me. And then I realised that if I ever wanted to be independent, then I would have to start doing things for myself.
Now I take a few deep breaths, figure out what I need to say and how I need to say it, and then I phone the number before I change my mind. The trick is to make a quick decision to make the call so it doesn’t leave loads of doubts whizzing around your head. The more you overthink it, the more you will talk yourself out of doing it. And if you do that you’ll be sabotaging yourself. So the best way to approach it is to act quickly!
Try to speak slowly
When you’re nervous, you often speak fast so you can get your words out there as quickly as possible. I get it. But what’s even worse than that is when you say something too quickly or quietly and then you’re asked to repeat it. Nobody wants to repeat something when they’re already feeling really anxious. Practice saying the words slowly and clearly. It will help you to feel more confident throughout the phone call.
Avoid silences by asking questions
When speaking to a family member or a friend, it’s understandable that you might run out of things to say, even at the beginning of the call. A lot of people get uncomfortable if there’s a few silences, so asking questions helps to fill any pauses.
Of course, silence can still be a good thing.
In real life, you would take pauses in between a conversation, and phone calls are no exception. It’s just that the silences are magnified because you can’t see their facial expressions. You are forced to hear the silence that you might not always take notice of in person. Asking a couple of questions, like ‘how was your day?’ or ‘how has your week been?’ takes some of the pressure off of you and puts them in the spotlight for a moment. This can be really beneficial to someone who has anxiety.
Think about how you would prefer to end the call
Something that a lot of people dread about phone calls is how to end them. That makes sense. You don’t want to look rude or offend anyone by ending the call too early but you also don’t want to talk on the phone all day. If you have phone anxiety, it can take a lot of energy just to make the phone call, so chances are, you don’t want to spend too much time talking.
A phone call for doctor appointments, for example, are over and done with very quickly. But a phone call with a friend is different because it can feel like there’s an expectation to talk and catch up for a while.
Here’s when you need to say something like, ‘I need to go now as I have x, y, and z to do. I loved catching up. I’ll speak to you soon.’ This is a good response because you’re not being rude or abrupt. You’re simply saying that you have other things that you need to be doing. It also makes them feel good to know that you enjoyed talking to them. There’s no need to apologise for ending the call as that suggests that you have something to feel sorry about.
I hope these tips help to ease your phone phobia. It can be quite a difficult thing to overcome and it might take you a while to get used to making phone calls with ease. It could be that phone calls simply aren’t your thing, and that’s okay too. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as that goes a long way.