Hanging up on phone anxiety
Ghouls, goblins, ghosts and…phone calls? In this story, we highlight the phobia affecting people across the globe and some tips on how to tackle it.
Have you ever had a well-earned moment of solitude, or a quiet sit-down with friends, interrupted by an unexpected and almost haunting buzz?
Suddenly, the comfortable silence or gentle conversation is pulled away, replaced by an ominous, pulsating hum that grows and demands your attention.
Those around you continue to talk and you wonder ‘have they not noticed, or were they struck by the same terror as you and are too anxious to acknowledge the sound’.
But the thought is short lived, as the world around you falls away until nothing is left but the monotonous screams of the electric phantom seemingly tucked in your back pocket.
Cautiously you reach in, your fingers are met by cold, vibrating metal and your worst fear is confirmed…you’re getting a phone call.
So you take a breath, gather as much courage as you can muster and hesitantly tap the screen, before bringing the device up to your face and whispering a timid ‘hello’.
If this sounds like you, then you may suffer with telephobia…more commonly known as the fear or dislike of talking on the phone.
A ‘staggering’ 2019 UK survey revealed more than 60 percent of office-based workers ‘have reasons for experiencing call-related anxiety’, with many reporting ‘freezing’ on the phone or sounding ‘strange’ as sources of stress.
The Face for Business study – which gathered data from 500 respondents – also confirmed that telephobia affects age groups differently.
It uncovered that 76 percent of millennials have ‘anxious-based thoughts’ when their phone rings compared to 42 percent of baby boomers.
The survey also found that 61 percent of office workers will display ‘physical anxiety-induced behaviours’ when the phone rings while they’re alone.
Often, those with telephobia will feel overwhelmingly self-conscious and uneasy when faced with the prospect of taking or making a call, suffering similar symptoms to social anxiety.
But the condition doesn’t just have an in-the-moment impact, with the Face for Business survey also reporting that it can affect long-term career prospects.
To help those who answer phone calls with an anxiety-induced mix of dread and nerves, we’ve highlighted a few helpful tips below.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
One way to soothe your stress would be to eliminate the element of surprise and put yourself in control.
By structuring your schedule, you have time to prepare before jumping on the line and may not be thrown off by unexpected calls.
This also gives you the opportunity to write out a few guiding notes, jot down any crucial topics of conversation and maybe even give yourself a short script to follow.
Get stuck in
Another way to help calm your over-the-phone terror, would be with some classic exposure therapy…we know, scary right?
But by getting calls out of the way, you can get used to being on the phone and potentially ease some of your anxiety.
To reinforce this habit and shift your perspective, you could reward yourself at the end of the call; be this through giving yourself some time to cool off or doing something you enjoy.
It’s not c-all bad
It’s very easy for us to overthink situations and allow our worries to snowball…a problem that can be severely heighted for the most anxious amongst us.
If you’re already full of fear stepping into a phone call, then any rejections, ‘no’s’ or pauses can quickly make you feel like you’ve done something wrong.
But you must remember not to read too much into things, as the person on the other end of the line could have any number of reasons for saying and doing what they do.
Take things at your own pace
As with any other kind of anxiety or fear, you can’t expect it to just disappear overnight.
Working to overcome your nerves and phone-induced phobia is a personal journey and you shouldn’t get bogged down if you don’t think things are moving fast enough.
Listening to yourself and taking steps at a pace that makes you feel comfortable is crucial…you should work with yourself and not against.
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