As someone with anxiety and someone who used to be a lot more socially anxious than I am now, I know what it’s like to feel daunted and overwhelmed by the prospect of talking to people, particularly strangers. I didn’t realize quite how widely common it is for people to have some sort of aversion to speaking on the phone – particularly to strangers e.g the bank or a customer service. This, let’s call it fear for now, I’ve also noticed is present in people who don’t suffer from anxiety, too. So, what is it about picking up that phone and having to talk to another human being that makes us so nervous or worried?
Luckily for me now, I have absolutely no problem talking on the phone to people. In fact, I quite like it and if I’m ever not 100% sure about something or need some sort of clarification, even if it’s something minor, I will always pick up the phone and call whoever I need to to sort it out whether that be my mum, the bank, Tesco customer service, HMRC, PayPal or whoever. All of those I’ve actually had to ring within the last week. But, I definitely haven’t always been like that. When my anxiety started and gradually got worse the thought of talking to someone on the phone literally made me panic.
Over the years, I’ve worked through that fear so now, I don’t hesitate about picking up the phone, regardless of who I’m calling. It’s just not an issue for me anymore but I know it is for a lot of people. You simply cannot go your entire life without speaking to someone on the phone. For your own sake and your own peace of mind, you need to be able to ring people and ask for help if you need it as speaking face-to-face isn’t always an option. So I wanted to put together a few things which hopefully might help someone who can relate to this post.
Make sure you’re comfortable before you ring
If you’re a very nervous phone picker-upper, I can’t stress enough how important it is to, if you can of course, get yourself in a comfortable environment before you call. Get yourself in a place you find relaxing, away from everyone else. If you feel like you need to pee or are feeling a little peckish, get that sorted before you dial too. There’s nothing worse than needed a pee when you can’t get off the phone!
Make sure you know exactly what you want to say before you ring
We’ve all been there when we’ve been nervous and fluffed up our words and nothing makes sense. Make sure you know exactly what you need to say before you dial – even write it down if you need to and refer to your notes. Take a big deep breath and say exactly what you’ve been playing in your head or read from your notes, if you took them.
Remember that the person on the other end is a human being to
And that you’re never going to meet them and there’s a 99.9% chance you probably won’t talk to them again (this applies if you need to call a company). Customer service people are there for the very reason to help you, so remember that. You’re not wasting their time by calling, it’s their job. They’ve spoken to all types of people with all types of questions and the second you get off the phone, they’ll be on it to someone else.
And remember that you’re in control of the call
If you don’t feel comfortable with whom you’re talking to, hang up. It’s not illegal. If the call isn’t going the way you thought it would or if the person on the other end isn’t actually being helpful at all, say thank you, goodbye and hang up. That’s all you have to do. It won’t ruin your day, it won’t ruin theirs.
This can apply to whoever you’re talking to really, unless the person on the other end is about to miss their flight then you don’t need to rush your call. Be clear on what you’re saying, be as specific as you like, take your time explaining things. If you’re calling a customer service, this is helpful because the other person can help you more efficiently. If you’re talking to a friend, then they should understand that you need to take it slow.
I hope this post has somewhat helped someone you understands this feeling and at least has made someone realize that they’re not the only person who feels like this! If you have any tips of your own, feel free to leave them below or if you, too, hate ringing people, I’d love to hear from you!
It's important that I state that I am not in any way talking about an actual phobia here - if that's the case, then you need to seek proper medical advice. This is just suggestions from someone who's been there and been through it which might be seen as helpful to some. If you feel like you're struggling or have a mental health condition, please see your GP>