How to Get Rid of Phone Anxiety

For a gadget that is loved by the world and found in just about every purse, pocket, and hand. you’d be surprised by how many people fear making phone calls. If you are overcome with anxiety by the thought of talking on the phone, you can learn to manage this anxiety and hold successful phone conversations. First, work to understand your fear of talking on the phone. Then, use practical strategies like role-playing and deep breathing to alleviate your distress when making phone calls.


EditConquering Your Fears

  1. Get to the bottom of your fears. The only way to truly conquer your phone anxiety is to figure out what’s causing it. Question what’s at the bottom of your fear of talking on the phone: Are you worried about saying something embarrassing? Do you fear rejection?
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    • Take a moment to really notice the thoughts that go through your head before you make a phone call. Notice what kinds of things you are telling yourself. [1]
  2. Challenge your self-talk. After gaining some insight into what’s driving your fear, try to change them. You can do this by modifying what you’re telling yourself about talking on the phone. For example, you might be telling yourself that you’ll say something stupid or embarrassing.[2]
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    • If this is the case, try to think about times when you have made a phone call and you didn’t say anything embarrassing. Now, reframe your self-talk by saying something like, “I have made several phone calls without embarrassing myself. I am capable of having a successful telephone conversation.”
  3. Work with a therapist. A chronic fear of making telephone calls may be an indicator of a deeper issue, such as social anxiety. By seeing an experienced anxiety therapist, you can identify the underlying problem and develop skills to overcome it.
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    • For example, treatment for social anxiety may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, exposure therapy, and social skills training. These techniques may help you identify anxious thought patterns, learn to face your fears, and develop helpful strategies for managing social situations.[3]

EditManaging Phone Calls

  1. Start with less distressing calls. Do you find yourself feeling more confident during some phone calls and less confident during others? If so, it may help to build your confidence by starting with phone calls that don’t cause so much anxiety.[4]
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    • For example, if you need to make three phone calls—to a friend, to a colleague, and to make a reservation—rank the level of anxiety you feel with each one. Then, start with the least anxiety-provoking, like to a friend. Make that call first to get some good vibes. Then, move to the next one and so on.
  2. Role-play beforehand. Sometimes phone calls cause anxiety because of the context of the call. In these situations, it may help relieve anxiety to role-play with a friend or family member ahead of time. That way, this person can help you desensitize before the real call and give you feedback about your performance.[5]
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    • For example, before a telephone job interview, you might do a “mock interview” with a friend. Have them ask you questions. Then, you can provide thoughtful answers as if it were the real deal. Ask for feedback after the “interview” is over so that you can make improvements.
  3. Get a lot of practice. The more you force yourself to face a fear, the less power it has over you. Therefore, you can gradually reduce the anxiety you feel about making phone calls by making more of them. Instead of sending a text, call a friend, coworker or family member. If you are planning to email a professor or boss, skip the email and call.[6]
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    • As you practice making more phone calls, you’ll likely find the activity doesn’t stress you out as much.
  4. Fake it. There’s a classic confidence-building strategy known as “fake it ‘til you make it.” Try this when you’re making phone calls. For instance, even when you’re not feeling so confident, lift your chin, pull your shoulders back, and smile during the call. “Faking” confident body language may actually lead to real confidence.[7]
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  5. Fidget. It can be helpful to release anxiety with small movements. When you’re planning to make phone calls, take something in your hand, such as a stress ball, a fidget spinner, or a handful of marbles. Play around with these items during the call to release excess tension.[8]
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  6. Enlist backup. If you’re required to participate in a phone call that is stressing you out, see if you can get a buddy on the call. This person can be silently present on the line to offer you moral support during the call. Or, they can join in on the call to serve as a buffer when you forget what you were going to say or become tongue-tied.[9]
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    • For example, if you’re checking in with a supervisor, you might plan to have a team member join you on the call. If you’re calling a distant relative, ask your mom or sibling to talk to them with you.

EditPerforming Relaxation Techniques

  1. Breathe deeply. Deep breathing is a practical way to get anxiety under control. Plus, you can do this exercise virtually anywhere, even during an active phone call—just be sure not to breathe directly into the speaker. Try pulling the phone away from your mouth for a few deep breaths or mute the line to breathe while the other person is talking.[10]
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    • Deep breathing involves pulling in air through your nose for several counts (try four). Then, hold the breath for about seven counts. Finally, exhale the breath from your mouth for about eight counts. Repeat the entire cycle for a few minutes until you start to feel calmer.
    • If you’re on an active call, two to three cycles of deep breathing can help you quickly collect yourself and decrease anxiety.
  2. Perform a full body scan. Holding tension in your body is really common when you feel anxious. By performing a body scan, you can bring awareness to areas that are tense and relax them. This relaxation exercise may be helpful before or after a distressing phone call.
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    • Start by taking a few deep breaths. Focus your attention on your toes on one foot. Pay attention to any sensations to feel there. Continue to breathe in and out, envisioning the calming breaths removing any tension in your toes. Once this area is completely relaxed, move up to the sole of your foot, your ankles, your calves and so on until your entire body is relaxed.[11]
  3. Visualize a successful call. Visualization can be a powerful way to ease anxiety and build confidence about an anxiety-provoking activity like making phone calls. Start by going to a relaxing place in your mind.[12]
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    • Try a favorite childhood hideout, a soothing riverfront, or a beautiful country meadow. Engage all of your senses to visualize this place in your mind’s eye. Then, imagine that the phone rings in this relaxing place. You pick it up and the call goes perfectly. You are not nervous. You speak confidently and intelligently. Whenever anxiety arises, you look around this peaceful place and the tension melts away.

EditSources and Citations

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