5 tips to overcome phone anxiety at work

Mike Butts profile image October 27, 2023 | 4 min read

Do you ever feel a sudden surge of anxiety when you see an incoming call on your work phone? You wouldn’t be alone. One study of 500 U.K. office workers found that 62 percent of employees had call-related anxiety. For the millennial crowd born between 1981 and 1996, that number soared to 76 percent.

Many people today struggle with phone anxiety, also known as telephonophobia. While phone anxiety can occur in various aspects of life, it takes on a unique character when it infiltrates the workplace.

In a work setting, there’s more than just the occasional chat with friends or family. Depending on the job, there may be a constant stream of calls with strangers—clients, colleagues and superiors—and the pressure to perform can be high.

For many, addressing phone anxiety at work isn’t just about comfort. It’s about improving one’s personal growth and career opportunities. So, if you experience phone anxiety, or know someone who does, here are powerful tips that just might help.

How to navigate phone anxiety at work

Facing phone anxiety at work can be challenging but there are ways to work through it and thrive professionally. Here are five practical tips to help overcome phone anxiety:

  1. Prepare and practice: Practice makes perfect, and it’s no different when it comes to phone skills. Try scripting key points for important calls, jotting down key information and rehearsing opening lines. It can serve as a safety net if anxiety kicks in and regularly practicing phone conversations can boost confidence to get more comfortable with the experience.
  2. Try controlled exposure: Start with baby steps to gradually become desensitized to phone calls. Begin with less intimidating calls, like talking on the phone with a close friend or family member. After gaining confidence, take on more challenging conversations, such as with a mentor or a familiar coworker, and slowly work up to more difficult calls.

    Pro tip: Anxiety creeping in? Don’t forget to breathe and put on a smile. Deep, slow breaths can work wonders to calm nerves during calls while smiling can “trick” your brain into relaxing.

  3. Consider therapy with a licensed specialist: Sometimes, phone anxiety can be deeply rooted and require professional help to overcome. In such cases, be sure to see a licensed healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

    Here are examples of what a professional can help you with. Keep in mind that these options may not be the best choice for you or your situation. This is simply illustrative, and you should consult with a licensed healthcare professional to determine your best course of action.

    Exposure therapy, much like the controlled exposure technique discussed earlier, is carried out with the guidance of trained experts. They can customize the exposure process to suit your unique requirements and ensure a supportive atmosphere.

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another option. It’s a therapeutic approach that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns. Therapists can help reframe their patients’ thoughts, develop coping strategies and build self-confidence.

    These are just a couple of the therapy options that can provide valuable tools for managing anxiety and improving phone communication skills at work. But again, consult a therapist for the best recommendations for you.

  4. Reach out to support networks: Remember, those who experience phone anxiety are not alone in this journey! Many businesses have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that offer confidential assessments, referrals and help for work-related and personal issues. Don’t be afraid to seek support from your friends, family, colleagues or mentors. Sharing your experiences with others who may have faced similar anxieties can be a great source of comfort. Plus, hearing from others who have conquered phone anxiety can provide reassurance and a much-needed confidence boost.
  5. Don’t neglect self-care: You can’t fill from an empty cup! Taking care of your overall well-being is essential for managing any form of anxiety. A healthy mind and body are better equipped to handle stress. Proven stress reducers include regular exercise, mindfulness exercises for relaxation and a healthy amount of sleep. It’s easier to handle phone conversations when well-rested and feeling good.

All in all, overcoming phone anxiety is a journey, not a sprint.

Why calling instead of texting can build work relationships

When it comes to work-related communication, the choice between emailing or texting versus talking on the phone can be a game-changer for building relationships and tackling tasks. While text communication has its place, there are undeniable perks to dialing up colleagues or clients. Here are just a few:

  • Connect on a deeper level. When you call instead of text, you instantly create a more personal connection. Phone conversations allow you to convey nuances, tone and emotion that text quite capture. It’s how you can build camaraderie and truly understand each other.
  • Solve problems quicker. Need a quick answer or want to brainstorm ideas? Talking on the phone can often speed up the process. Clarifications and discussions happen in real time, making decisions more efficient and collaborative.
  • Boost confidence. Calling instead of texting can help strengthen phone skills over time. Anyone looking to get rid of phone anxiety should embrace calls as an opportunity to practice, grow and become a confident communicator.

So, next time you’re pondering the question of text vs. calling at work, remember the perks of picking up the phone. It’s a small step that can have a big impact on your professional relationships, and who knows? You may even help yourself or a colleague conquer phone anxiety at work.

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