People don't make phone calls anymore

Telephone phobia: 10 tips against the fear of the phone

The ringing of a telephone - for most people a completely everyday situation at work. But while some pick up the phone without hesitation, the ringing of the doorbell makes others feel uncomfortable, which can grow to fear or even panic. The fear of using the phone, often called the phone phobia, is widespread. Those affected are by no means alone. However, the topic is rarely discussed.

1. The telephone phobia as a manifestation of the social phobia
2. How is the fear of telephoning expressed?
3. 10 tips against the telephone phobia
4. Beware of avoidance strategies!

The telephone phobia as a manifestation of the social phobia

First of all, it must be stated that the telephone phobia is not a diagnosed anxiety disorder. In other words, this is not a clinically proven problem. However, this does not mean that those affected are just imagining their fear of the phone.

The telephone phobia is understood as a form of social phobia. This is the fear of social, i.e. interpersonal, contacts in the most varied of forms. A social phobia occurs differently in every person. Not everyone with this anxiety disorder automatically has a phone phobia. The other way around, however, also means that a fear of telephoning does not have to mean that the person concerned generally has problems communicating with other (strangers) people.

How many people are affected by a telephone phobia cannot be said. There are no clear figures or studies on this yet. A general social phobia occurs in around 2 to 3% of the German population.

How is the fear of telephoning expressed?

The fear of telephoning can be roughly divided into three categories:

  1. The fear of making a phone call
  2. The fear of an incoming call
  3. The fear of telephoning in general (mixed form of a. And b.)

This means the following: It is quite possible that a person is very afraid of picking up the phone and making a call, but it is not a problem to take one - and vice versa. A telephone phobia has many different faces and is always associated with different fears. These can be summarized as follows:

  • Fear of not being understood by the other person
  • Afraid of stuttering
  • Afraid of getting tangled
  • Afraid of not capturing the important information
  • Afraid of not being able to express yourself clearly
  • Afraid of too much closeness between the interlocutors
  • Fear of strangers
  • Afraid that the other person will think badly of you
  • Afraid to call at a disturbing moment
  • Fear of not having the right contact person on the line
  • Fear of embarrassing yourself (in any way)
  • Fear of being rejected ("waved off")
  • Afraid of open confrontations

Do these and similar fears and worries sound familiar to you? Then it may be that you suffer from a telephone phobia (or, to put it less dramatically, a fear of telephoning).

10 tips against the telephone phobia

If you ask around at work or in personal networks, you can quickly see that aversion to telephoning is widespread. So it's not something to be ashamed of or to keep quiet. In the following, we want to give you a number of tips to help you declare war on your fear of using the phone.

Tip # 1: Fixed telephone hours

Anyone who knows that an important phone call is imminent is often paralyzed with fear all day long. It goes without saying that this uncomfortable feeling automatically affects all your other tasks and your productivity is greatly slowed down. Don't let your fear of the phone block your entire workflow. You can do this, for example, by setting daily telephone times. Especially in the case of frequent callers, it makes sense to Time window to determine in which all telephone calls will be dealt with. This has the following advantages:

  • You don't keep interrupting your workflow
  • You can concentrate better
  • You create a (telephone) routine
  • You can better prepare yourself for your fearful situation

Tip # 2: Prepare well

What is your goal with a phone call? What information do you need? Who is your contact person? Many people are so afraid of using the phone because they are poorly (or not at all) prepared for the conversation. If you share this fear, it is beneficial to approach phone calls systematically. You can do this, for example, by getting a Checklist with all important points. This could look like this:

  • Interlocutor
  • Call time and date
  • Topic of conversation
  • Open questions
  • Agreements

Additional tip: It makes sense to make a list for both incoming and outgoing calls. Processing every call with the same overview usually does not work in practice. It is also good if you adapt your reminder to your industry and your professional position.

Tip # 3: The starting sentence

“Every beginning is difficult” is not only a popular saying, it also has a lot of truth in it. Many people with a telephone phobia are particularly afraid of starting a conversation and often get tangled up in the process. To avoid this uncomfortable situation, it makes sense for you to have one general entry rate consider that you can use every time you call. This will help you focus and create a routine. The sentence can be written on a piece of paper and attached to your workplace where it is clearly visible. This means that you always have it in front of your eyes and can also practice it between two conversations. At some point it will come off your lips very easily and without reading.

Tip # 4: ask

"I hope I don't bother you now." - "Hmm, whether the person on the other end of the line is the one who can help me." - "What if I can't remember the name immediately?" Are you familiar with your thoughts before you make a call? Does it make you nervous that a phone call is always associated with so many unknown variables? Then our next, very simple tip will help you: Just ask! It's easy. A friendly “Hello Mister X, I hope I'm not bothering you?” Or “Hello Ms. Y, are you the right person to contact when it comes to topic Z?” Direct the conversation in a constructive direction and save time - on both Pages of the line.

It is also important that you always remove any ambiguities immediately. You did not understand the answer of your interlocutor or you need more detailed information? Don't be afraid to look again. This not only shows interest, but also a thorough way of working. It won't help anyone if you still have open items on your list after the phone call or if not all questions have been clearly clarified.

Tip # 5: the "worst case"

If you are afraid of making a phone call, you may be afraid of very special situations that could also be described as a "worst case" scenario. About what "Horror Scenarios" is this specific? Take the time to write down all of your worries and fears so that you can reflect on them afterwards.

By facing your specific fears, you will learn to deal with them better. This exercise is also good for you to discover that some of the scenarios that are floating around in your head are utterly absurd.

Additional tip: Just writing down your fears is not enough for you? Then think about how you would behave in various worst-case scenarios. What do you reply to certain statements? How do you react to rejection? What do you do if the person you are talking to does not understand what you want from them? Play through different situations and thereby gain more security when making calls.

Tip # 6: rewards

Now we come to a tip that you can use not only when making a phone call, but in all imaginable unpleasant situations. Rewards (in whatever form) are the easiest way to associate something with positive feelings. In practice it could look like this:

  • Make or answer a call
  • Keep the previous tips in mind to keep the conversation running smoothly
  • End the conversation
  • Speak to yourself (mentally or out loud) praise for the good phone call

Other rewards such as a candy, a coffee or a cigarette are of course also allowed, but less useful in the long term - especially if you have to call several times a day or even an hour. In this case are encouraging words (which can also come from colleagues, more on this in the next tip) the better choice.

Tip # 7: address the problem openly

Time, finally Plain text to talk: Who in your company knows everything that you have problems with telephoning? Have you ever spoken about this openly with colleagues or even your boss? Being open about your fear is important if you are to hope for support from others. This does not mean that you should pass on upcoming phone calls to your colleagues, but rather that you should address your phobia in front of the telephone receiver open and personal conversation reflect. It often shows that you are by no means alone with your problem. Very few people state that they really enjoy and really enjoy making calls at work.

The open discussion of your fear in combination with familiar conversations represents a kind of self-therapy that helps you to face the problem and also to accept it.

Tip # 8: Smile please!

Just because the person you are speaking to cannot see you while you are on the phone, it does not mean that they are not non-verbal signals perceives. It is actually true: a smile on the phone can certainly be "heard" - or at least perceived - by the other person. The same applies to annoyed rolling eyes. So if you are afraid of rejection or harsh answers, for example, you would do well to show your best smile. This has the effect of transferring your positive attitude to the person on the other end of the line. A smile is also infectious over the phone, just give it a try. You will quickly find that making calls is automatically more fun when you are smiling.

Tip # 9: telephone workouts

Are you afraid of using the phone because you generally feel that you don't know how to do it properly? Then it is high time your boss looked for a professional Telephone training to ask. This can be completed by the entire team and is a real asset to any company. In telephone training, for example, you will learn

  • how to make effective and targeted phone calls
  • how to express yourself clearly and understandably
  • what role facial expressions play when making a phone call
  • how to quickly collect and request important information

Tip # 10: Just do it

Regardless of whether you are afraid of spiders, extreme heights or phone calls - if you want to overcome a fear, you have to face it. Specifically, this means: Pick up the phone and just get started. Such a ruthless one confrontation has the positive effect that you will quickly notice that everything is only half as wild. Even if this step takes a lot of effort, it is highly recommended. By confronting your fear of the telephone, you not only reduce it, but also strengthen your self-confidence.

Beware of avoidance strategies!

Communication is constantly evolving. While the fax is slowly but surely ending up on the sidelines, the e-mail is booming. Other digital options, such as chats or video services, are also becoming increasingly popular and ensure that the telephone receiver does not have to be picked up as often. This is a blessing for people who suffer from a telephone phobia. In the protection of the e-mail you can formulate extensively what your concern is and do not have to fear misunderstandings - at least that is the general assumption. This creates short-term relief and reduces the pressure in everyday work.

Nevertheless, it must be emphasized at this point that switching to alternative communication channels is no help in declaring war on fear of the telephone. The phobia is only repressed and not really eliminated. Writing e-mails or a short chat with colleagues are of course fine - but should never be used to completely suppress the "good old" phone call.

The fear of telephoning - does this topic also play a role in your everyday work or do you have no problems with it? We are interested in your experiences and opinions on this post. You may also have other tips that you can pass on to those affected. We look forward to a lively exchange.

Photo credit: Refat / Shutterstock.com

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