Anxiety, unfortunately, manifests in many shapes and forms, and it never ceases to amaze me with its versatility 😒
One of the most recent encounters I had with anxiety was with the newly discovered form of it, the “phone” anxiety. I had always thought I was just shy or lazy before realizing the amount of struggle I was going through with a simple mundane task, and confessing to myself that it’s not normal to go through hell every time my phone rings or more yet every time I have to make a phone call.
And just to keep things clear, I am not an introvert, I don’t find it hard to talk to people, I love dealing with strangers, and I do so well in meetings, so this type of struggle was strictly related to my phone.
*How did I recognize I had “phone anxiety”:
1- As I work somewhat in the business/client relations area, making phone calls with people both unknown or totally familiar to me is a daily thing, when I started jeopardizing my work just to avoid a phone call, I had to step back and do research about it.
2- When answering a call from a person I do miss and do want to speak to was incomprehensibly hard.
3- Fast heart rate was a huge indicator that no one can miss, having your heart beating as if you were running for the past 20 minutes just because you have to make a phone call is not that common.
4- Being ready to do anything else to avoid a few minutes on the phone, even if it’s going to take triple the amount of time and effort.
5- Having the same symptoms in all different situations: at first you tell yourself it’s because I am tired now but I will be at ease some other time//It’s this particular person I don’t like to have a call with// it’s because I don’t know what I should say exactly// …etc. However, my feeling didn’t change over time and I ran out of reasons to justify my struggle.
Now we get to the overcoming part, honestly for me once I identified the issue as it is “a diagnosed anxiety form” I was half way through overcoming it.
So the tips that really helped me and proved effective are:
1- Diagnosing the problem and doing some research.
2- Setting a purpose for the call in your mind, for example, if you are calling someone for work at least have a specific reason for the call so you would feel less dizzy about it.
3- Practice the opening sentence, look at the time, is it “Good morning, Good afternoon or ..”, this might seem ridiculous but believe me thinking of what to say after the person answers if you are making the call is enough to throw you off balance when you have anxiety, and it will make the experience register in your mind as an overwhelming task.
4- Don’t worry about what happens after the greetings and stating the purpose of the call, lets say I call a client, I have to know that I will be saying: “Hello …., Good afternoon, I want to ask you about ….” what comes after is not to worry about, if I know what am doing getting through these 3 lines is all the trouble, and this for me was actually better than practicing the entire conversation, because the rest of the call will depend on the other person’s answer and if that doesn’t go by the script you have practiced it might be worst for your anxiety.
5- This is the one that helped me the most, not just helped, it healed me and made me capable of making and receiving phone calls with some ease, it’s knowing and constantly reminding myself that the person on the other line, no matter who he/she/.. is, is just another human being!
They might have the same thoughts you have, they might be tired or overwhelmed, they might even be stressed about what to say to you!
So take it easy on yourself, remember, the worse that could happen is you messing up with some words or coming across as nervous, and that is FINE. There is not one professional, working person in the world that doesn’t find this relatable, and if it’s not a professional and you are just making a social call then remember being who you are and taking things light-heartedly always makes it better.