Making and taking phone calls can be extremely anxiety inducing. When you become an adult and are forced to make your own appointments and have job interviews over the phone, it can become increasingly difficult to ignore the need to make and take phone calls. Except, when you have anxiety, you do just that. You ignore it. You avoid it. Then, when you really need to make a phone call, you’re unable to because anxiety has prevented you this whole time.
Phone calls used to be a major trigger for my anxiety. The way I overcame my fear of making and taking phone calls was by getting a job in a call centre for an audiology company. For one whole year my job was simply to talk on the phone. It forced me to face my fear. If I didn’t make and take phone calls then I would have been fired. It literally came down to whether I wanted to pay my bills and eat. It wasn’t easy and my anxiety reared its ugly head often, but this job helped me to gain confidence when talking on the phone. It’s made it easier for me to make and take calls both personally and professionally. However, I’m aware this isn’t an option for everyone, so here are some tips that may help you manage your phone anxiety.
Practice with someone you trust
One bad experience can impact how you cope with future situations. If you end up overwhelmed with anxiety, you may not want to try again. You may avoid it until the moment you’re forced to confront it. Practice with someone you trust. Call them and have them call you. If you struggle with calling your doctors for an appointment, for example, then try to practice what you’ll say with your trusted person. This will allow you to learn to think on your feet, continue a conversation, and feel more comfortable on the phone. More importantly, they are also able to help you out if you feel overwhelmed. Maybe even schedule a weekly phone call with your trusted person so that you can become comfortable with just being on the phone. The more comfortable you become, the easier it will be to manage your phone anxiety.
Write a script
Anxiety can cause me to fall over my words and stutter. This only increases my anxiety. Working in a call centre where my job was to arrange hearing tests and hearing aid fittings for the hard-of-hearing, falling over my words and stuttering was not an option. So I wrote out a rough script of what I wanted to say. It’s not possible to dictate how the entire phone call is going to go but you get a general idea. Jotting down a few sentences made a tremendous difference. This takes away the need to think on your feet as much and was effective at reducing my anxiety to more tolerable levels. It’s still something I do to this day in my current job. It’s a method I swear by for managing phone anxiety.
Try short phone calls
Keep it short and sweet by phoning your work and just asking what time your next shift is, call the dentist and book an appointment, call a shop to see what time they close or if they have a specific item in stock. Pretty much anything you know that will take less than five minutes on the phone. The more short phone calls you make, the easier it does become. Short phone calls will help you learn to cope with the immediate anxiety. The more short calls you’re able to make, the more you realise that, for the most part, phone calls aren’t as terrifying as your anxiety leads you to believe. This method can help you become more in control of your anxiety in these situations.
The only person who cares is you
You may get anxious making and receiving phone calls because you’re afraid you’ll say the wrong thing. Or because you’re afraid you’ll humiliate yourself because you won’t know what to say. Or you’ll freeze and not say anything. Do you want to know what I’ve found? The only person who cares if you do any of those is you. They may notice it in the moment but I almost guarantee you they won’t remember nor care the second the call has ended. This is particularly true for businesses or medical practices as they get a high volume of calls per day. The only person who cares enough to remember is you. Remind yourself of this each time you go to make or take a phone call and it does make it easier.
(I previously worked in a call centre, then went on to get a job in public transport where my role involved making and taking a lot of phone calls. In my experience, the only calls I remember are the ones where the person on the other end was either incredibly sweet and kind or extremely rude and aggressive.)