If you’re worried about bothering people, remind yourself that they wouldn’t pick up the phone if they couldn’t talk. If you’re worried about stumbling over your words, understand that many people do this and the person with whom you’re speaking will forget about it quickly.
If you have a phone appointment or conference call scheduled, make some brief notes for yourself. You don’t have to have a detailed script, just a few bullet points that cover what you want to say.
Write Hard Names Phonetically
If you’re worried about mispronouncing someone’s name, write it out phonetically. For example, if you have a phone call with Saoirse Ronan, you’d write SER-sha Ro-nahn.
Speak to Yourself Before Calling
Rehearse a little bit of what you’re going to say to yourself. If you do this while you’re writing out what you’re going to say, you can try different phrasing and see what works best.
Write Before Calling
If part of your anxiety stems from a dislike of interrupting people, you can email or text prior to your call. A simple message like “Is now a good time for a chat?” will keep you from interrupting people.
Pick Something to Focus On
Part of the anxiety of talking on the phone comes from the fact that a portion of communication is visual (although psychologists disagree about how much). It can help to have something in the room to focus on, so pick something mundane, like a coffee cup or a pencil, and focus on that thing while you talk. Don’t pick something dynamic or distracting, like a computer screen.
Find a Private Location
Phone anxiety can come from the impression that making a call in front of others feels like performing for them. You aren’t, but instead of fighting that feeling it’s easier to just find somewhere private to make your call.
Self-Guided Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a common tactic to beating anxiety. Set small goals for yourself and speak to someone on the phone for five minutes a day. The conversation doesn’t have to be scintillating and you don’t have to have any other goal than to just speak.
We realize that telling someone to relax can have the opposite effect, but if you have phone anxiety it can help to relax before a call. Sit up straight or stand and take slow deep breaths. If you’re breathing from your diaphragm, your belly should expand.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
If you suspect that your phone anxiety is part of a larger anxiety problem, it may be time for professional help. This may be as simple as signing up for a class on mindfulness meditation or you can speak to a psychiatrist about cognitive behavioural therapy. If more information would be helpful, you can take this online test from the Mayo Clinic. Anxiety is very treatable. If you think you have a problem with anxiety, there’s no reason to avoid dealing with it.