What can you do about telephonophobia?

Alicia Kalnawat profile image October 18, 2023 | 5 min read

Avoiding phone calls, breaking into a cold sweat when the phone rings, or experiencing a racing heart before dialing a number. While lots of people may have experienced these things, they are also symptoms of phone anxiety, known informally as telephonophobia.

Telephonophobia, simply put, is the fear or anxiety associated with making or receiving phone calls. It’s a common issue in a world where texting, emailing and instant messaging have taken center stage, affecting countless individuals from teenagers to working professionals.

But here’s the good news: If you do have phone anxiety, you’re not alone, and there are ways to overcome it and fully enjoy all the benefits of calling. Here are some tactics to consider if you want to take charge of your phone-related fears.

Understanding phone anxiety

Phone anxiety affects countless people across different age groups, demographics and professions. According to a study of 500 U.K. office workers, 62 percent of employees reported having call-related anxiety, with the percentage for those born between 1981 and 1996—the millennials—jumping up to 76 percent. Telephonophobia can also be an offshoot of social anxiety disorder (SAD), which affects approximately 15 million American adults.

Phone anxiety isn’t just about feeling a little nervous before making or receiving a call. It can manifest with a range of physical and emotional symptoms that can be truly distressing.

When faced with a ringing phone or the prospect of making a call, someone with phone anxiety may experience physical symptoms like increased heart rate, sweatiness, trembling, nausea and even panic attacks. Emotionally, it can trigger feelings of dread, fear, obsessive thoughts and an overwhelming desire to avoid the situation altogether.

While dealing with phone anxiety can be incredibly tough, it’s important to understand that it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s a real condition that lots of people experience and can overcome.

How to get over phone anxiety

Wondering how to get rid of phone anxiety? First, it’s important to know that occasional feelings of anxiety are normal. It’s when those feelings are frequently intense, excessive, and persistent that it may indicate an anxiety disorder. In such cases, it’s crucial to not self-diagnose and to speak to your doctor for a proper evaluation.

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all cure for anxiety, there are effective treatments to help manage phone anxiety. Therapy with a licensed specialist is one of the most effective ways to treat anxiety, offering a safe space to unpack emotions, identify triggers and develop new coping skills.

Some common treatment options a licensed therapist can use for phone anxiety include:

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on recognizing and challenging negative beliefs that fuel anxiety-driven behaviors.

    Exposure therapy, which involves gradual exposure to feared situations, leading to desensitization.

    Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which centers on “emotional regulation, distress tolerance and mindfulness” skills to better handle stressful situations.

Note: Keep in mind that the above therapies should be determined by your licensed therapist. Consult with them to figure out which is best for you and your situation.

Beyond working with a trained therapist, the following strategies can also be used to build confidence before a phone call.

    1. Prepare for and rehearse the call. Take time to make notes on what to ask or discuss during the call and rehearse potential talking points. Being prepared can improve confidence and help maintain focus throughout the call.

    2. Smile. Did you know that smiling can actually “trick” your mind into entering a state of happiness? Try putting on a smile to boost your mood and promote relaxation before a call.

    3. Embrace rewards. Celebrate getting through a call with a reward, whether that’s a yummy treat or a soothing nap. This can inspire a sense of pride in the achievement and serve as encouragement to make the next call.

It can also help to focus on the advantages of conquering telephonophobia. After all, the benefits of getting over phone anxiety can be huge, affecting not only our mental well-being but also our personal and professional life.

Overcoming phone anxiety can lead to improved mental health, reduced stress levels and enhanced communication skills. This newfound self-assurance can spill over into other aspects of life, boosting overall confidence.

When it comes to personal relationships, being able to call and engage in meaningful conversations with friends and family helps us feel more connected to them. Professionally, having confidence during phone conversations will open doors to career opportunities. Communication via calling instead of texting is common in business and conquering this fear can lead to better professional relationships and advancement.

Phone call or text? The comeback of calling

It might surprise you to learn that, in the debate between texting vs. talking on the phone, calls are making a triumphant comeback. This resurgence in the popularity of calls is not only fascinating but it also gives us another compelling reason to tackle phone anxiety head-on.

One notable place we’re seeing this is on social media with the trend of spontaneous calls. Platforms like TikTok are buzzing with challenges to get friends and family to pick up or call back quickly.

There’s also a shift happening in the dating world. Dating apps are teeming with users expressing their desire for a pre-date call instead of text. They understand that phone calls offer a more personal and intimate way to connect, helping them truly get to know their potential partners.

But it’s not just in romance. When it comes to resolving conflicts, making important decisions, or building a stronger bond, a phone call can be a game-changer. The nuance in tone, the immediate feedback and the ability to have a real-time dialogue that voice calls provide are unbeatable.

In a world dominated by screens and keyboards, phone calls remind us of the importance of genuine, unfiltered human connection. Consider the opportunities you can enjoy in this resurgence of calling. Embrace the power of the phone call. You might just find it to be your new favorite way to connect with others.

Learn more: If you happen to need a home phone system, check out Ooma Telo.

Just call them

These days, it’s easier than ever to avoid phone calls. We’ve got text messages, emails and a multitude of messaging apps at our fingertips. But what are we missing out on when we let our telephonophobia hold us back?

It’s natural to feel anxious about making phone calls but you’re not alone. There are numerous resources available to help overcome phone anxiety. Start small, take one step at a time and remember that practice makes perfect. Overcoming phone anxiety can open doors to deeper connections and opportunities. So, take a deep breath and just call them. You’ll be amazed at the positive impact it can have on your life.