Overcoming Phone Anxiety

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Overcoming Phone Anxiety

BY Skillset Marketing 28 Apr, 2022

Does the thought of answering and speaking on a phone make you nervous? Do you prefer to text rather than speak on the phone?

Many people have an aversion to making or receiving phone calls. In fact, people from all age groups share some anxiety about answering or speaking on the phone. However, this issue – sometimes called telephobia – is much more prevalent amongst younger people. In a 2021 study conducted by the ABC, 56% of people aged 18 to 22, and 52% aged 24 to 29 reported feeling anxious when they had to talk on the phone. Another study of UK office workers conducted in 2019 found that 76% of Millennials (those born between 1981 to 1996) experience anxiety-induced thoughts when they hear the phone ring and 61% will avoid phone calls completely.

So why do younger people have such high levels of phone anxiety?

The answer is simple – exposure. In today’s society, people can conduct many of their interactions electronically. It is possible to schedule appointments, make purchases, organise bookings and be in contact with other people without ever having to talk with a real life person. This is even more so for younger people who have grown up in a digital world and are more inclined to live their daily lives online.

The difficulty with this development is that many workplaces still require employees who can answer the phone, and interact with customers and clients on the phone, to undertake their core business. Wanting to avoid any phone calls in the workplace may mean that younger workers don’t take up certain job opportunities which can limit their career options.

If you have a fear of answering and speaking on the phone, here are a few tips for reducing this anxiety:

Increase your phone call experience

To decrease your anxiety about making and receiving phone calls, it is best to slowly build up your experience in this area over time. Start with making calls which require less conversation. A good example of this is ringing a restaurant to order food rather than ordering it online. Over time, increase the number of calls you make and the complexity of these calls. Even try calling friends and family rather than texting them and ask them to call you in return. Remember, the more you practice taking calls and talking on the phone, the easier it will get!

Develop a script

Many people who are anxious about talking on the phone are worried about what to say. To get around this, develop a script for any upcoming phone calls which includes an outline of what you want to say and what you want to achieve from the call. Importantly, think about the phone call occurring in three phases – beginning, middle and end – and from this write out how you want to start the conversation, the key points you want to make during the call and how you want to finish it. This preparation should assist with decreasing your anxiety and calm you down before and during the call.

Remember it doesn’t need to be perfect

Another reason why some people don’t like speaking on the phone is because they are worried about stumbling over their words and being judged negatively for this. Whilst recognising this concern, it is worthwhile remembering that no one speaks flawlessly all the time. It is normal and perfectly human to stumble over your words every now and then. Everyone does it – politicians, news readers, CEOs, teachers, sports stars … the list goes on and on! Therefore, don’t be too hard on yourself and prepare yourself for the odd mistake when speaking on the phone. It is completely natural! As you increase your amount of time speaking on the phone, this concern should start to diminish.

Seek help if necessary

Concern about speaking on the phone is another form of social anxiety which can be very debilitating for some people. If these tips don’t work for you and you are feeling overwhelmed by taking and receiving phone calls, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. Talk to your GP or contact mental health support services such as Kids Helpline, Headspace or Beyond Blue to get the assistance you need.

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Australia Skillset would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work.
We are honoured to be on the ancestral lands of those whose cultures are among the oldest living cultures in human history. We pay respect to the Elders, past, present and to the younger generation of the community who will be the future leaders in years to come.