Before you choose to call someone instead of using other forms of communication, you may need to consider the possibility of them having telephobia, otherwise known as phone anxiety. Have you ever seen someone who gets extremely nervous when their phone rings? Someone who avoids phone calls because they give them symptoms similar to those of anxiety disorder like increased heartbeat and shortness of breath. They may just be suffering from this condition.
Phone anxiety or telephobia is the fear and avoidance of phone conversations and is common among those with social anxiety disorder. For normal people, picking up the phone is as easy as ABC, but for those with phone call anxiety, it takes much much more. Usually picking up the phone takes a Herculean effort: You rehearse what you have to say a thousand times, you dial with shaky hands, you get a panicky feeling in your chest when you hear a ring on the other end. Let’s talk about phone call anxiety in depth.
What’s the big deal?
It might look like a small thing, but phone call anxiety can spiral and affect many other aspects of your life. It can trigger other mental illnesses and reduce the overall quality of your life. It causes missed job opportunities, lost incomes and friendships, and other difficulties. The sooner an individual addresses telephone phobia and its related psychological conditions, the better it is for the individual.
Causes of phone call anxiety
Phone call anxiety doesn’t just creep up on you. more often than not, it is caused by experiences and several factors. Here are some of the things that may cause it,
1. Not knowing what the other person is thinking
You get a phone call from someone, and they haven’t spoken to you in ages. Maybe even they have. Maybe it’s good news and maybe it’s bad news. You don’t know, and you can only find out by picking it up. That in itself can cause phone call anxiety.
Statistically, more than 90% of communication is nonverbal. Words are only one small part of how we convey meaning, and plenty of those other parts like facial expressions only do their job when you’re talking face-to-face. Over the phone, on the other hand, “all we have is the voice,” says Alison Papadakis, a clinical psychology professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies stress. “So that can be a bit nerve-racking for people.”
2. Time pressure
With texts or emails, you have time to think about your next response and arrange your words as you see fit. Unfortunately, we don’t get that luxury with phone calls. Every word becomes a gamble. This makes you wonder whether you’ve said the right thing and whether you could have said it better. In that mindset, it’s easy to see a phone call as a demand, one that the other person might fulfil only grudgingly.
3. Performance Anxiety
Closely related to time pressure, another cause of phone call anxiety is performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is a psychological condition in which a person dreads a certain act because they fear they will do it wrong, or that they will freeze up and be rejected. People who avoid phone calls because of performance anxiety do it because they fear negative evaluation of how they talk over the phone and ultimately fear being rejected.
4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
You have probably heard about PTSD, a disorder characterized by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. It’s crazy how one form of mental health disorder can affect another, and this probably complicates everything. PTSD can lead to Phone call anxiety.
PTSD causes the victim to avoid triggering situations and events, which bring back memories of past trauma. For example, people who have been stalked and harassed over telephones in their past may begin to fear all telephone calls irrationally. They may experience flashbacks of bad experiences on the telephone. To avoid reliving these traumatic experiences, they may avoid the telephone altogether.
For some people, a lack of experience with phone calls can easily lead to phone call anxiety. If you’re not used to receiving phone calls then whenever you do, you may start to overthink. Your brain may go into overdrive wondering why you are receiving a phone call.
Talking face-to-face may be intuitive, but talking on the phone requires an understanding of a subtler etiquette: breaking a phone call down into its parts, and you have to know how to gracefully segue from the greeting into the next phase, when to pause, when to jump in, how to wind things down. It’s something that takes practice.
Signs and symptoms of phone call anxiety
Phone call anxiety may exhibit in form of symptoms similar to Social Anxiety Disorder or it may also have some unique symptoms. Here are some of them:
- The first obvious symptom is not picking phone calls. Some people resort to giving excuses for not picking up and use autoreply texts to avoid them. This may be perceived by people as rude and affect your relationships.
- Guilt, shame, and extreme sadness over their inability to do something that is so natural for others.
- Obsessing about what is said during phone calls.
- Worrying about what the other person will think about you. This is a result of overthinking every word that you say.
- Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, nausea, shaking, and trouble concentrating
How to deal with phone call anxiety
Luckily, there are ways in which you can deal with phone call anxiety. Whether you like it or not, phone calls will always find you and you may sometimes be forced to deal with them. For this reason, you may want to find ways to deal with it. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Cognitive behavioural therapy
If phone calls greatly affect the quality of your life, then it may just be a sign to seek help from a therapist. Cognitive restructuring involves challenging beliefs and replacing negative thoughts with more constructive alternatives.
2. Exposure training
Sometimes the best way to get over a form of anxiety is to deal with it. That’s probably why they say that you need to go through some things to get through them. Exposure training involves the gradual practice of progressively more difficult behaviours. Each behaviour is practised until you are comfortable and can move on to the next most difficult one.
3. Practising mindfulness
Ten minutes of mindfulness training per day can help people recognize anxious thought patterns as they arise. Deep breathing exercises can counteract the body’s nervous response and help a person deal with phone call anxiety. Health: 7 Benefits Of Deep Breathing Exercises
4. Systematic Desensitization
Phone call anxiety obviously stems from somewhere, and more often than not, a past experience. That’s where systemic desensitization comes in. This therapy involves making a hierarchy of fear-inducing situations and gradually exposing oneself to those situations until one no longer feel threatened or anxious. When the patient’s perception of fear or anxiety becomes unbearable during the therapy, they are asked to relax using specific techniques.