Did you know that 81% of the working population across the globe is plagued by anxiety when they hear their phone ring?
For some people, it may just be a simple matter of “not enjoying” a phone conversation.
For others, even the prospect of speaking to a coworker, a client, or worse – their boss on the phone can make their heart beat like a drum.
If you are someone who gets that “knotted-up” feeling in their stomach each time their phone rings, you have come to the right place!
Sure, with the growth of social media and all the apps popping up on a daily basis it is easier to stay in touch with just a simple text message.
Today, voice calls have become relatively obscure even in a workplace setting as most of the correspondence happens via emails but they are not completely avoidable.
We have carefully crafted this article for all you folks who are looking for ways to stop panicking each time they feel their phone vibrate.
We will also provide 7 brilliant tips that you could use in your day to day life to successfully overcome phone anxiety in both your professional and personal life.
Read on to find out more about this less talked about form of anxiety.
What Exactly Is Telephonophobia?
Yes, this form of anxiety has a name and it is called Telephonophobia. It is also known as Telephone phobia or phone anxiety.
People who experience this form of phobia spend their lives actively avoiding making or picking up phone calls.
Phone anxiety is considered to be a type of Social Anxiety Disorder.
Keep in mind, having a fear of phone calls does not necessarily mean you have social anxiety.
You could be completely comfortable in social settings and yet suffer from phone anxiety.
Individuals who do not struggle with this form of anxiety may find answering calls an extremely trivial matter and may fail to understand the intensity of your panic.
But just because others do not understand it does not make it any less real! You are not imagining your symptoms.
Individuals with this form of anxiety can typically communicate with ease when they meet the same person face-to-face but speaking on call may trigger their anxiety.
Phone Anxiety Facts And Statistics
As compared to baby boomers (individuals born between the years 1944 to 1964) and Gen X (individuals born between the years 1965 to 1980), millennials (those born between 1981 to 1996) suffer from phone anxiety the most.
Research suggests that about 76% of millennials alone suffer from phone anxiety as compared to only 40% of baby boomers.
61% of millennials show physical symptoms related to anxiety when they hear the phone ring in a workplace setting and are compelled to answer it.
Around 46% of employers make the final hiring decision for a candidate after the initial phone interview. This means that when it comes to your job, phone-calls are an extremely unavoidable and important factor.
In a recent survey that was conducted on the general working population in the UK, the results were quite surprising.
It was found that out of the 500 people who were surveyed, a staggering 62% of those employed stated they suffer from anxiety each time the phone rings.
Out of this, 33% of the people stated that they worried about “not being able to deal with whatever work-related query the caller has”
15% of those interviewed worried about “freezing up and going blank in the middle of the conversation.”
Approximately 9% of them explicitly stated that they have to deal with a myriad of “negative thoughts about how things could go wrong” the second they hear their phone ring or vibrate.
A fear of “sounding weird or strange” was found in 5% of the people surveyed.
An individual can also suffer from a mild form of phone anxiety which is known as “telephone apprehension” where the intensity of the anxiety is not as severe.
What Does Phone Anxiety Look Like?
In most cases, the signs and symptoms of phone anxiety overlap with the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.
Of course, the intensity experienced will vary from person to person and from situation to situation.
However, there are some indicators that you may be suffering from phone anxiety, some of which are mentioned below:
A sharp rise in heart rate
Trembling of hands
Sudden dry mouth
Nausea and a churning sensation in the stomach
Psychological / Emotional Symptoms
A sense of impending doom or disaster when the phone rings.
Going to great lengths to avoid making or receiving a call.
A constant preoccupation or obsessive worrying thoughts about a phone conversation that is due or has already happened.
Constant stress about saying the wrong thing on call or offending the caller.
Feelings of helplessness and dread when your coworker, client, or boss asks you to get in touch via phone call.
In some cases, fear and anxiety can be extremely overpowering and may result in a panic attack or a nervous meltdown.
7 Expert-Backed Ways On How To Overcome Phone Anxiety At Work
You may have encountered a situation where you told a colleague or your friend about your phone anxiety and you received the response “just pick the phone up and talk. It is no big deal.”
For people with phone anxiety, it is never as simple as that.
While this form of anxiety is not necessarily dangerous in itself, it can disrupt your professional lives to a great extent causing distress.
If your phone anxiety is severe and unmanageable, it is important to consult a therapist.
Getting over phone anxiety by using our coping tips is not too difficult but it will require some amount of time and effort on your part.
By the end of this article, you will learn effective strategies that will definitely help you overcome phone anxiety in a workplace setting.
Let’s dive in.
1) Visualize What The Call Will Look Like.
Use the power of your imagination positively, not negatively.
More often than not, you anticipate the worst when you hear your phone ring.
This anticipation of a disastrous outcome of the phone call gives rise to anxiety.
In the majority of cases, it is your fear of the call that is the problem, not the call itself.
A brilliant strategy that we have designed is to always take a second and imagine what this conversation will look like.
Example – If you see your boss is calling and you can feel the bile rising in your throat, all you have to do is pause for a moment.
Pause and visualize what the call will look like.
If you are working on a project with your boss, chances are they have called you just to check on your progress or to ask you to look for a file related to the project.
When you approach your anxiety logically and visualize what the call would look like, it could drastically ease your anxiety and make it easier for you to answer the call.
2) Resist The Urge To Go Over Every Word That Was Exchanged
A major problem with phone conversations is that you cannot read the caller’s non-verbal cues.
A huge part of phone anxiety for a lot of professionals is the constant and obsessive urge to mull over every word of the conversation that you just had.
This is an exercise in futility and nothing good will ever come from it.
In fact, by giving in to this urge, you end up making your anxiety and self-doubt worse.
An expert strategy to deal with phone anxiety is to stop and distract yourself with work or an activity that you enjoy whenever you feel the need to think about the conversation you had.
Example – You just had a great conversation with your client from work over a phone call.
Now, you can feel the familiar negative thoughts slowly creeping up on you.
This is where you use our strategy.
Vow that you will not let these obsessive negative thoughts have any power over you.
A great way to distract yourself is by getting up and taking a short walk while listening to music.
You can also make yourself some tea or coffee to keep your mind occupied and keeping negative thoughts at bay.
This is a highly underrated but effective tip that we can give you.
Not only will smiling reduce your stress when you have to make or receive a call, but it will also make the person on the opposite end perceive your tone as warmer and friendlier.
Research has revealed that when you smile while communicating in a professional setting, you are much likelier to be perceived as confident.
Trust us, even though the person on the opposite end cannot see you, they will think of you as a pleasant individual which in turn increases the likelihood of your call turning out to be a success.
4) Try To Understand The Reason Behind Your Anxiety
This part could be a little tricky for most of the people dealing with phone anxiety.
While it may be difficult to pinpoint precisely why you experience this form of anxiety, it may be well worth your time to try to figure out what could potentially be causing it.
If you are an introvert with social anxiety, chances are you find both in-person as well as phone conversations related to your professional life extremely draining.
If you are perfectly comfortable with face-to-face conversations in your workplace setting, chances are that your phone anxiety stems from a bad phone-call experience that you had to deal with in the past.
For plenty of millennials, the reason behind your anxiety could be something as simple as not being used to communicating via phone calls.
Trying to understand the cause behind your phone anxiety is the first and foremost step in overcoming it successfully.
5) Practice, practice, and then practice some more!
“Practice makes a man perfect” is a proverb that is applicable in this situation.
Unfortunately, no matter what you do, often the best strategy to cope with this form of anxiety is by gradually making yourself comfortable with the idea of phone calls.
This is a form of exposure therapy wherein you put yourself directly in the situation that makes you anxious.
There is a way to do this and it is important to take it slow. Always start slowly and keep making progress.
Example – Instead of saying “I am going to avoid all calls today, no matter who is calling me.” try saying “I am going to answer the first call that I receive today. If it goes well, I will answer the second call as well. I will continue doing this for the rest of the day”.
By exposing yourself to the situation you fear, in this case making or answering calls, you will eventually realize that most of your fear is in your mind.
In the case of phone anxiety, your imagination is far deadlier than reality and it will take a ton of practice to overcome it.
6) Have A Rough Outline InPlace
This is a strategy that is the most effective.
If your anxiety is relatively severe, having a basic script in place can help keep you focused and will give a certain degree of control over the situation.
This technique is especially useful for professionals whose jobs predominantly involve a lot of phone calls or cold-calling.
Having an outline will also take away the fear of spontaneously saying something wrong or inappropriate.
Example – Always start by having a basic introduction in place.
If your opening line is smooth, the chances of your call going well shoot up exponentially.
Start by introducing yourself and mention the name of your company.
Now, you can get to the point and explain the reason behind your call.
Here, we recommend you write down all the important points that you are going to talk about beforehand so that you do not miss anything.
By following a rough script initially, you will eventually learn how to communicate effectively on calls which will help you overcome your anxiety.
7) Do Not Hesitate To Ask For Help And Feedback
If you have a coworker you are particularly close to or a boss that you may have established a rapport with, it may be a good idea to let them know about your anxiety.
Ask them for their help in this situation. You may realize that your coworkers may actually be eager to help you out!
You can ask your boss if you can call them beforehand and practice the script with them before calling the concerned person in this situation.
You can also try to record your calls and conversations and have your coworkers or project manager listen to it.
Next, ask them for their feedback.
If you find it difficult to ask for help, start analyzing your calls by listening to the recording and make a note of the areas that require improvement.
To conclude, there will be days where you will make no progress and there will be days where you will make excellent progress!
Both days are equally important.
Always remember, overcoming phone anxiety will require some skills and time.
Is it going to be daunting sometimes? Yes. Is it impossible? Definitely Not!
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Disclaimer: Please note that all articles are not a substitute to visiting a mental health professional. All articles, videos and ebooks have a entertaining purpose only. Self-diagnosing anxiety or any other disorder can be extremely dangerous. We highly recommend seeing a professional if you feel overwhelmed or anxious.
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