I came across an article that I thought would make an intriguing post and it has to deal with an experience I dealt with after finishing a job earlier this year. Without keeping you in suspense, I’ll be talking about telephobia or in other words the reluctance or fear of taking and making phone calls. Moreover, I’ve experienced some of the symptoms to a heightened level which caused me to become reluctant to answer phone calls after my tenure as a call center representative and I want to share ways to somewhat alleviate your angst over that next call you receive.
` Having a dislike for communicating on the phone doesn’t necessarily mean you have phone anxiety, although there could be a correlation. Some people simply don’t like being on the phone and would rather have a face-to-face conversation. However, if this dislike results in certain symptoms, then you might have phone anxiety.
Experiencing telephobia will cause emotional symptoms which include delaying or avoiding phone calls (inbound), and making calls (outbound) due to a heightened anxiety before, during, and after the call. Now, this brings me to talk about my tenure as a call center representative. At the beginning of this year, I worked as a temporary call center job and it was an intriguing but taxing experience mentally. Before every shift and during my shift I relaxed through deep breathing, and it did help me to a certain extent. However, once the calls started coming in and on some days it would be an onslaught of them, that was when I began to overthink and become worried about what I would say to the next customer, and how I’ll sound because I knew that quality assurance was listening. If you’ve ever had these emotional symptoms then it would lead to the inevitable physical symptoms which include nausea, increased heart rate (felt that) shortness of breath, and muscle tension (felt that). In addition, that job put me and I believe my coworkers on the edge of our seats (no pun intended) because we had no idea who was on the other end of that line and believe me I talked to people from across the nation (almost every state). I’ve spoken to cordial ones, insolent ones, confused, and the ones that wanted to explain their life story to me so it was like playing telephone Russian roulette. In regards to this, ever since I left that job, I’ve screened every call I didn’t have a caller ID for because it brought me back into a mindset of being at that job again, so I was and still am wary of every unknown number.
With that all said, you’re not alone if you’ve felt anything I’ve said thus far. To put this into perspective on a grander scale, a 2019 study in the UK found that 76% of millennials and 40% of baby boomers have anxious thoughts when their phone rings. Because of this, 61% of millennials would completely avoid calls, compared with 42% of baby boomers. Furthermore, for some, talking on the phone can be an overwhelming experience since we’re limited to the sound of our voices and it becomes difficult to gauge body language, eye contact, and other social cues. This causes us to be self-conscious of how we sound and our choice of words. Worst of all, one thing that can diminish the flow and energy is silence which makes the call go towards awkwardness fast.
In conclusion, even though this might sound counterproductive, an effective way to overcome phone anxiety is to expose yourself to more phone calls. Facing the challenge by first communicating with family and friends will be good practice and will boost your confidence whenever you make and take that next call. Since a lack of experience is linked to what causes phone anxiety, then gaining experience will cause you to be prepared and strategic on how you’ll respond. When the call is over, acknowledge your effort and make improvements so the next call can be a success. On the other hand, if you don’t find much success with this, then seeking professional help from a therapist will be a good option and their understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy is a good treatment for social anxiety.
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