Why am I afraid of making phone calls?
I have always felt stressed about the idea of making or receiving an unexpected phone call, and this fear is in fact called "telephobia or phone anxiety". Now, I have always been afraid of stammering and not being able to express myself when chatting. Plus, I feel like the person on the other end of the phone is going to judge me and have a better argument than I do, no matter what I have to say or why I'm calling 😅. Also, not having my caller in front of me often bothered me. Indeed, on the phone, it's hard to get other implicit messages across through non-verbal communication 😥...
A social difficulty
In reality, I think my fear of making phone calls has long reflected my social discomfort. I've never been too sure how to behave around others. It's even worse when I don't have eye contact with the person, therefore the phone has never been my friend. I even had an anxiety attack over the phone at times because I had to call the IRS, that's how much I hate the idea 🙄... To top it off, I'm an introvert, so I have all the specifics together to be afraid of the phone 😅.
👉 I know I'm not the only one in my generation who doesn't like to use the "call" feature on a phone, but why is that 👀?
Why don't young people like to call?
I was born in the early 90s, and back then the only way to communicate quickly was by phone. Only, at that time, I was still a kid! I actually grew up, like other Gen Y and Gen Z kids (otherwise known as millennials), with a conditioning of communication to the written word 💻.
It is the doctor in sociology, Catherine Lejealle, who explains that from 1996, instant messaging took over. In particular because of the fixed prices and the progressive arrival of Internet. So we evolved with a new method of communication that we quickly appropriated to the detriment of the telephone 😬.
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Asynchronous and on-demand communication
In reality, there are two reasons why we don't like to call when we belong to the "gen Y":
- We prefer to use other asynchronous modes of communication with social networks, voice notes, stories, ... They are much more creative 😌 !
- We work on demand: a phone call implies pressure, because the phone exchange is now or never. We prefer to choose when we want to exchange 😶.
And yes, a phone call implies a synchronization of two people, which can happen, but which puts us in discomfort since we are not used to exchanging like this. So much so that 76% of Generation Y feel stress when the phone rings, according to an English study on telephobia 😅...
How can you stop being afraid to call?
The phone is still a much used mode of communication. That's why I've been working on myself to stop being afraid of the phone. I put a few things in place that helped me progress, here are my tips:
👉 Screening calls: I have no problem answering my family and friends, in that case I pick up right away. However, just because I have a phone doesn't mean I have to answer everyone, especially scams... So I put calls from numbers I don't know on total silent. If it's important: they'll leave a message! It allows me to call back when I feel ready to do so 😌.
👉 Practicing with small calls: Sometimes you have no choice but to call anyway. To get used to it, I started with small, innocuous, less scary calls: making a doctor's appointment, ordering a pizza 🍕, etc. Basically, you have to get used to one call = one simple action again. And afterwards, we'll be better able to develop a richer exchange based on our need 👌 !
👉 Taking notes: When I had bigger calls to make, like a job interview, I had taken notes ahead of time. This helped me stick to a thread, especially when I got the question "why you and not someone else?" 😱. This way, I wasn't thrown off (too much), as I was able to hold onto what I had prepared in writing 📝!
👉 Take a deep breath: Before I make a phone call, I work on breathing exercises to deeply relax. This is what meditation taught me, the more oxygen we get, the more relaxed our bodies become. This also works when the call is incoming, I take a deep breath during a ring and pick up 💬 !
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Understanding where your fear comes from
Beyond these tips, I think it's essential to understand where your phone anxiety comes from. For my part, I understood over time that it had something to do with my fear of others' gaze and my social anxiety. In order to overcome my fear of the telephone and of making calls, I had to work on what was behind it. After a while, I managed to calm down my thoughts that were going in all directions. This allowed me to take a step back and tell myself that there was no reason for a phone call to go as badly as the scenarios I had imagined. After all, no one has ever come out of a handset and hit me 💀 !
Editor's note: Getting through it with CBT.
Phone anxiety is a disabling fear that is difficult to combat alone. It hides a bigger problem, like a lack of self-confidence or a fear of others. In order to overcome it and not miss the phone call of her life, cognitive and behavioral therapy is very appropriate. It allows you to get rid of your anxieties little by little, so don't hesitate to be accompanied if you feel the need:
🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... It's here and now!
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