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Why Some People Are Afraid Of Talking On The Phone

Why Some People Are Afraid Of Talking On The Phone

Today’s society communicates more than any previous generation, however it also “communicates” the least at the same time. Before text and email were invented, people either had to have face to face conversation, talk on the phone, or write letters to one another. Now, more and more people find that they prefer texting and emailing over any other form of communication. Although we communicate more, we have lost the true art of conversation. A new part of today’s problem, is phone anxiety disorder. Here are a few habits that could indicate you have phone anxiety:

  1. You often let your phone ring, only to text the caller pretending you missed their call.
  2. Your voicemail message says “don’t leave a message, just text me”
  3. You have disabled your voicemail altogether.

Why Does Phone Anxiety Exist?

1. Insecurity – When you can’t see the person you are talking to, you don’t really know how they’re reacting to your words. People can feel insecure about phone conversations because even though the person on the other end sounds like they are in agreement, they may actually be rolling their eyes at what you are saying.

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2. Social Awkwardness – The thought of running out of things to say can strike fear into a person’s heart at the very mention of talking on the phone. Dead air is one of the worst things that can happen to someone with phone anxiety!

3. Distraction – Some people need to type out their responses in a text message, or see the person to whom they are speaking to, in order to stay focused on the conversation. Distractions while on the phone can be a huge problem because there could be so many different things happening around you, you may end up losing track of what the other person had been saying for the last good amount of time. It’s embarrassing and awkward to have to admit that you weren’t paying attention, and then ask them to repeat their story.

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4. Ending the call – Some people with phone anxiety struggle with how to end calls. You need to hang up the phone, but because you feel awkward, winding down the conversation ends up being blunt or clumsy, causing you even more anxiety.

5. Lack of control – Texting and emailing allow you to have total control over what you are saying and how you are generally being perceived. You can plan out your responses, take your time, read over what you’ve written, and re-write parts that could possibly be taken the wrong way- or decide not to respond at all! With a phone conversation, none of the options above are possible.

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What Can You Do About Your Phone Anxiety?

Psychologists have a number of suggestions as to how people who suffer from phone anxiety can deal with their problem:

  1. Remember you are not alone. Psychologists report that phone anxiety disorder is extremely common, so the chances are pretty high that the person on the other end could also be feeling anxious talking to you! Think about how you can help the other person through their own phone anxiety, and it might even help you forget about your own.
  2. Figure out why talking on the phone makes you anxious. Sometimes the root of the problem has nothing to do with the problem itself. For example, you might have suffered rejection over the phone earlier in life, and what you are really afraid of is experiencing that rejection again, not actually speaking on the phone! Deal with the root of the issue, and the symptoms of the problem will go away.
  3. Take baby steps. If you have an issue, it can take a while to fully deal with it. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t seem to overcome your phone anxiety right away. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction, so don’t despise small beginnings! Start slow, and work your way up. Try ordering take-out over the phone instead of doing it online this week. You will never see the person on the other end, so if you mess up a little bit, it doesn’t even matter. Once you don’t feel nervous about it, you can move on to more serious phone calls.
  4. Change the way you think. Someone wise once said, “If your way of thinking has brought you to a place you don’t like, then have another thought! Think again!” Changing the way you think can seem like a daunting task, but according to psychologists, it is possible. You literally have to rewire your brain to associate talking on the phone as a normal thing to do, instead of associating this activity with fear and anxiety. The only way to do this is to face your fear. Don’t worry though, baby steps are still recommended.

Featured photo credit: woman-calling-with-her-phone-picjumbo-com via picjumbo

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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