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>
I have awful awful phone anxiety so this was really super helpful! The one i’d actually never considered before was that I can just hang up if I want, which seems so obvious now i’ve read it but I think when you’re in a panic you’re sometimes a little bit irrational. Making sure you’re comfortable (I have just the chair in mind now!) is something i’d never considered either. xx
Kate | katedruryy.co.uk
This is a fantastic post Jenny and one I sorely needed to read at the moment. I do struggle with ringing people I don’t know, especially when I’m having a ‘bad’ day as I call them, and these tips are great for that, so I’ll definitely be using them when I’m at work this week! – Tasha
Hi Tasha – I’m so glad you found the post helpful! (: best of luck with trying the tips xx
I don’t know if there’s many bloggers out there dealing with issues such as this but I’ve never come across a post such as this and I have to say thanks so much! As I said above I get nervous ringing people I know as well as those I don’t, and I kind of have to plan for it. Your point about remembering they’re human is so valid, sometimes I plan what I have to say so much and forget that a conversation can take a turn and then you can get into it so much that you didn’t need to get so het up in the first place!
It’s not like a huge thing that lots of people talk about — like anxiety for example. But I’ve noticed it more and more and obviously I know from my own experience that it’s a real thing so I figured more people must have it too. And yes absolutely you worry so much about sticking to your “script” and then the conversation will go off on a tangent but by then you’re absolutely fine so nothing to worry about in the first place!
Good tips! Talking on the phone is one of my absolute least favorite things to do.
Thank you (: I hope you can find them helpful in some way!
This is a really helpful post, thank you. Its funny, I wouldn’t say I suffer from anxiety, but I don’t like talking on the phone. I do often use the tip you mentioned of writing down what you want to say, and it doe help.
Thank you I’m glad you found it helpful. Yes my boyfriend doesn’t suffer with any form of anxiety but he HATES talking to people on the phone. If he needs to ring a company or something like that about a problem I either have to force him or do it for him haha.
I not only struggle with ringing people I also hate answering the phone and often won’t do it even if I know it’s important. It’s not just strangers that terrify me but people I know well like my doctor or my nan! These tips are really useful and hopefully I can start putting them into practice one day xx
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I was just thinking that too, Nicole. I can get nervous about ringing people I know and I have to really push myself to dial
I can definitely relate to that because unless it’s someone I know I still get a bit nervy picking up the phone, especially the house phone where it doesn’t say who it is!