I have always found those Internet advertisements for telephone phobia quite ironic. “Have telephone phobia? Call today to speak to a professional therapist / hypnotist!”
When I was terrified of the telephone, those ads just made things worse for me. But the fact was, I was not the only one who hated the telephone, and neither are you. While the best way to cope with social anxiety is to welcome it to altogether, here are some tips on coping with making a phone call:
Tip # 1: Change Your Attitude
What stops you from making a phone call? Are you worried that you might be bothering the other person? Not knowing who will answer the phone and how the conversation will go? Being turned down?
The thought of making a phone call can cause some people to start outright panicking. However, thinking of all the bad things that could happen will not help you, especially if you have to make the call anyway. Instead, think of all the good things that could happen. Imagine yourself making that call, run it through your mind as everything goes smoothly and you complete the conversation with a smile on your face.
If you are bothering the person, then they would not have answered the phone. They have chosen to be “bothered” by you. And as long as you stick to the point, and not decide to chat for hours (unless they invite you to), it's not going to worry them. If you have a request that is turned down, it is most likely for many reasons, probably none of which are directed at you personally.
If you are calling an organization, remember that you are doing them a favor by calling them. Whether they are going to get money from you, or even constructive criticism from you, it is very helpful to them.
Tip # 2: Prepare Beforehand
Write out the phone number and what you are going to say. If you are comfortable enough, just use keywords to help you along, otherwise a full script may be more suitable. Make sure you are in a situation where you are alone and no one is going to interrupt you.
If the actual dialing of the number is a concern of yours, it may pay to invest in a phone that tells you what numbers you have entered in. Otherwise, pay close attention to each number as you dial it.
Check if there are any alternatives to making a phone call. Do they welcome email or have online services? If it is a friend, will it be appropriate to use text messaging? For some people, talking to the person face to face is a bit easier than using a telephone.
Tip # 3: Practice
Practice on “easier” calls. Who are you more comfortable calling? A certain friend or family member? For some, these are also difficult, but perhaps not as terrifying as some other calls.
If calling a family member or friend is still too scary to agree, then start with your own mobile or home phone. No one will answer it, and you will be able to practice dialing in a number and listening to the phone ring.
Make an easier phone call at least once a week. You will be glad you did when you are facing a more difficult call.
Tip # 4: Smile
Before the person on the other end answers, put a huge grin on your face. Keep smiling through the call, whether you are talking or not. People can tell whether you are smiling or not through your voice. It also helps with your attitude, both consciously and subconsciously.
Tip # 5: Reward Yourself
Immediately reward yourself afterwards. This will help link pleasure to using the telephone and give you something to look forward to. A reward could be enjoying your hobby, a snack, reading a book or magazine, or anything else that would be appropriate.