“I hate talking on the phone. What can I do about it?”

Image: Mean Girls

I love using my iPhone, but let’s make one thing clear: I hate actually talking on the phone.

Whether it’s calling a friend or making an appointment at the dentist, I will do anything to avoid a phone call. I will always prefer to text, email, or even meet in person. But dialing a phone number, and waiting for someone to pick up and say “hello”? No thanks. It’s too uncomfortable and nerve-wracking.

It turns out that I’m not alone in my fear of phone calls, particularly among the under-30 set. (I’m over 30, but let me pretend I’m in my 20s for this one story, please!) The generation who have grown up with ready access to the internet have no time for phone calls. Why call up a restaurant to make a reservation when you can do it online with the click of a button? Answering a ringing phone is simply too strange for us.

Piper from "Orange is the New Black" has a love/hate relationship with the phone.

 

But is the internet and social media truly to blame? A fear of phone calls may have a more primitive source, according to Melissa Ferrari, psychotherapist and counsellor. She believes that humans are wired to build a sense of connection through seeing each other’s faces.

“Some people need the experience of ‘seeing’ another, which is something the phone doesn't offer and therefore it can cause internal disruption or fears,” suggests Melissa. That would explain why Skype feels more comfortable to me when compared with a phone call. Either that, or I just enjoy the extended selfie experience it provides.

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But don’t worry — a fear of phone calls is completely normal. And accepting the normalcy of this fear is the first step to overcoming it, according to Melissa. Because, let’s face it, talking on the phone is part of adult life.

Calling made easy

Here are Melissa Ferrari’s tips for talking on the phone, without freaking out:

1. Self-soothe.

“Self-soothing is when we regulate our own nervous system so we can tolerate what needs to be done,” Melissa explains. This can take the form of visualising a friendly, kind person on the other end of the line, taking some time out to meditate, or even giving yourself a pep talk. Melissa suggests saying to yourself, "Yes, I can be scaredy cat sometimes because I don't have the assurance of seeing the other person, but that may have something to do with a thing I can't control. Essentially I am okay".

Perhaps some yoga would help, like in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"?

 

2. Create calm.

Dispel the pre-phone jitters by actively creating your own sense of calm. “Create calmness in your body and nervous system by doing the things you know settles and centres you,” Melissa recommends.

Kramer from "Seinfeld" knew what it was all about.

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3. Breathe.

It may help to get away from your desk, to give your mind and body a rest before tackling that call. A burst of air may be all you need to invigorate yourself before picking up the phone. Melissa says, “Go outside, breathe in some fresh air and go straight back in and make that call!”

Or, you could talk on the phone and be outside at the same time.

 

Are you afraid of making a phone call? What will you do to avoid it?

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