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How to Overcome Phone Anxiety

using the phoneDo you ever look at your ringing phone, feel your heart start to pound, and decide that you just can’t answer it?

This is one symptom of phone anxiety, a type of social anxiety that can make starting a phone call or answering one very difficult. These days, most people with phone anxiety can simply text instead, but that can also limit your career options and life opportunities.

Here are a few signs that you might have phone anxiety, as well as a few approaches to overcoming phone anxiety.

The Symptoms of Phone Anxiety

As with many fears, phone anxiety is a scale. Some may only feel minor discomfort, but still be able to answer calls and make them. Others may be too anxious to ever make a call. To help gauge where you are on the scale, consider if you have these symptoms:

  • Feeling afraid before and during phone calls
  • Delaying phone calls
  • Obsessing over what you’ll say before calls
  • Obsessing over what was said after calls
  • Shaking or trembling before or during calls
  • High heart rate before or during calls
  • Feeling nauseous before or during calls
  • Taking extreme measures to avoid phone calls

Techniques to Overcome Phone Anxiety

The right techniques for you to overcome phone anxiety may depend on how serious of a problem it is for you. Those who are unable to make calls in all but the most dire circumstances should seek professional help to tackle this problem. Afterall, you may one day need to make an emergency call, and it’s best if you can do that quickly and confidently.

If your livelihood depends on making or answering phone calls it may be best for you to invest in professional help, no matter your level of anxiety. The smaller an anxiety, the easier it is to treat. Whereas small anxieties can become more serious issues if you do not tackle them.

If you want to start right now, there are techniques you can start without a therapist to help yourself handle phone anxiety:

  • Phone exposure therapy: This technique involves exposing yourself to the thing you fear in simple, controlled steps. You want to start small to avoid overwhelming yourself and repeat a step until you’re comfortable doing it. Start phone exposure therapy by calling a number that you know has an automated answering service, like a government hot line or your bank. Slowly work yourself up to having the kind of phone calls you need to do for work.
  • Visualize a positive outcome: Some people with phone anxiety focus on what can go wrong with a call. If you find yourself stressing about how to start a call, or what the other person might say, it can help you a lot to imagine the best-case scenario for the call.
  • Work on breathing techniques. Anxiety usually causes quick, shallow breathing, but the reverse is also true. Try forcing yourself to take slow, calm breaths before making a phone call—you might be surprised by just how well it works.
  • Create a script. It’s normal to use a phone script for a sales call, but you can use them for any kind of call. Writing a few talking points out ahead of time can help keep you organized when you feel overwhelmed.
  • Call someone familiar first. Calling a friend or family member before a serious call can help you get your bearings and remind you that phone calls don’t have to be scary.
  • Reward yourself. After successfully making a big call, reward yourself with a quick break, a snack, or another small prize. It helps your brain associate phone calls with things other than stress and anxiety.

Save Your Efforts for Necessary Phone Calls

Whatever you can do to minimize the number of phone calls you have to take, without avoiding them altogether, can help reduce your anxiety. If you’re a business owner, investing in a call answering service to handle your least favorite part of the job can make your work more productive, less stressful, and more fulfilling.

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