I’m not sure what it is that makes me so afraid of making phone calls. For a device that I have in my hand most hours of the day, nothing really sends me into a fit of terror than making a call.
There’s level one crisis: calling a friend
And then all the way to a level ten crisis: Calling a customer service line with a problem or question.
If you’re like me and have a fear of talking on the phone, you’re not alone. It’s common enough to have its own name: Telephobia. And it is considered to be a very common type of social anxiety, especially for millennials.
So when you can’t get by with texts and emails here are some handy tips in overcoming the fear of making phone calls (And we’re adults now, we probably should’ve conquered this issue ages ago.)
1. Take it step by step
One of the best ways to overcome your phone fear is to face it. But that doesn’t mean you need to throw yourself in the deep end. Start small, with types of calls that only make you a little nervous, and gradually work your way up to more difficult calls.
Start off with calls to a friend, and then work your way up to those dreaded customer service lines.
2. Plan a time to make the call and do it
You will have less anxiety if you plan to make the call at a specific time and do it. Don't procrastinate. As tempting as putting it off may seem, you will only think about it all day and become more stressed.
3. Go somewhere private
There’s nothing worse than making a phone call and having people around you watching everything you say. It’s like a double dose of social anxiety and another audience to laugh at you when you stuff up. Instead, try and go somewhere private where you know you won’t be interrupted.
4. Do some tactical breathing to calm your nerves.
A good idea is doing some relaxation techniques before placing a call. Soldiers and police officers use a technique called “tactical breathing” to help calm them down before combat. We may not be going into armed battle, but the techniques work just as well for stressful situations. Here’s how to do it:
– Slowly inhale a deep breath for 4 seconds.
– Hold the breath in for 4 seconds.
– Slowly exhale the breath out for 4 seconds.
– Hold the empty breath for 4 seconds.
– Repeat until your breathing is under control.
5. Create a “script” of what you want to say
Writing out what you want to say takes away some of the unknown. A good idea is to dot point the main things you want to get across in the conversation. This will make you feel more confident and clearly convey what you want to say during the call.
6. Walk around and make gestures.
Studies have found that when you walk around and make gestures you feel more confident and are less likely to use language fillers like ‘um’. So even though the person on the other end of the phone can’t see you, try to gesticulate anyway to make yourself feel better. Walking around also helps loosening you up and feel more comfortable.