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Readers Respond: How do you handle making phone calls?

Responses: 41

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Updated November 26, 2009

Some people with social anxiety disorder are afraid to make or receive telephone calls. People who have a "phone phobia" may experience symptoms such as a shaking voice, racing heart and shortness of breath when talking on the phone or trying to make calls. How do you handle making phone calls? Do you avoid the telephone or procrastinate about making calls? Share Your Experiences

I hate making and answering calls

I don't really know the reason why but I hate making phone calls or answering phone calls. I only feel comfortable when I have a friend next to me while doing phone calls. although sometimes I want to be alone when answering these phone calls. It's giving me a hard time, especially at work, I need to call outside the country and ask few questions about their company/university. And I prefer sending them an email but the response is not quick. And it kills me to talk to the person on the other line especially when they are being rude.
—Guest Faye

i have this same problem

I am happy I am not the only time with this. I hate this about myself. It takes me forever to make a phone call. I can call my mom and that's about it. Any other phone call I get very nervous and go almost into a panic attack.
—Guest Ashley

I wish I could just get over this

I have had terrible social anxiety especially towards the phone since I was a kid. When I was younger, I was good at answering the phone, but never took names or numbers so my brothers would get mad. In recent years I have gotten a lot better at getting out of my comfort zones, but not with making or receiving calls. Whenever I need to call someone, I try to find an alternate option like texting or emailing the person. I won't even answer the phone at work, call my best friend without my heart racing, or calling people on my phone in public (except for my parents). I am worse than some people, because I cannot even call for pizza, I would rather order online. Maybe my fear is a little excessive, but I am always worried about bothering the person or that I will say something stupid. It is so embarrassing to avoid phone conversations or answering the phone in general. I wish I could just call my family members and not get so anxious. Any suggestions for me?
—Guest MRose (22)

Phone Anxiety as a Codependency Issue

I believe many social anxiety issues can be traced back to the original parental bond. If a parent was codependent with the child, this can cause all of the feelings and symptoms one experiences in making phone calls. Especially if you consider that making a phone call is reaching out for love, attention, guidance, support, and all of the things that the child could not count on receiving from the codependent/and or addicted parent. Fear of reaching out to others is just one of the many effects of being a child of an alcoholic and even a 'dry' alcoholic. Look into an AL-ANON membership which has meetings all over the nation to get support for this disease.
—Guest Jay

I always put off phone calls

I had to call my doctor to tell her I need my immunization records sent to my school and I put it off for so long. Every time I was ready to call I'd get really nauseous and I'd have a hard time breathing and then I would just tell myself I'd do it the next day. I don't understand why I get such bad anxiety over making a simple phone call. I get so afraid that I'm going to sound stupid or I'm going to mess up.
—Guest Cassandra

I think I have this same problem

I have been looking to see if anyone had this same problem and I'm so glad I found this. I know I have this problem since my college days when I simply was too afraid to call friends to do simple stuff. People would have to call me and I would just ignore the call despite knowing that its just a harmless call. I get this anxiety ball that just won't go away. Despite this I managed to get by in school and became a lawyer. But my problem has always been here and now it has pretty much ruined my career. I'm definitely gonna go talk to a therapist now and maybe there's a way to get past this. I'm totally normal in all other respects except this and it sucks, and the worst part is I don't know why I'm like this. Thanks guys for sharing and good luck to all!
—Guest Guest Jay

Anxiety And Time Drain

I hate making calls as well. Over the years I have alienated a lot of friends because I just would either not call them or call them back. I'm just as bad with family. I am not that phobic around family I know in person, but on the phone it's hard to explain I have an aunt that is literally dying and I NEVER call or visit her. I have no excuses. I also am introverted and only so much time in the evenings to relax and I don't want to spend it on the phone with people who want to yak my ear off forever. I think it might help me if I was able to get the hell off the phone sooner than later and had a gracious way to say, well, that's it. Talk to you next time.
—Guest scaredyL

Sigh

So my fear IS a phone phobia. Once, I called my friend's home number. Someone I didn't recognize picked up the phone, so I hang up the phone then started crying. Another time, I got a new phone and didn't get all the contact stuff yet. A chain of number I didn't recognize called me, I ran, panicking, screaming a little, found my mom, then answered the phone with her. The number was my friend. I don't like seeing a chain of numbers that I don't recognize. Sometimes I can't hear clearly on the phone (which drives me nuts), and it's really annoying when you can't really pause to think on the phone — the other end thinks that you've vanished or something. And I don't understand the art of end a phone conversation. It's sad.
—Guest sigh

I hate making phone calls too...

When it comes to calling somebody unknown on my phone.. Feels horrible. . .its like "what the heck i've got myself into" xD im even afraid to call an ISP....
—Guest Isté

It's worth working on

I've been suffering from GAD now for about 2 years and developed all kind of nasty fears, including phone anxiety. I'm definitely having a lot of trouble coping with my issues and challenging my fears, because for most of them I can't repeatedly face them. For many months I was avoiding all my fears except my phone anxiety, where I had to make a call every 3-4 weeks... Even though I challenged that fear for a good 30-90min everytime, I never saw progress. Yes as time passed, from having music constantly playing too loud, I couldn't hear incoming calls. So because of this I never answered the phone for a few months, and ultimately my fear grew to being unable to receive phone calls... I hear the phone ring, and ring, and I'm afraid of sounding stupid, million of negative thoughts going through my head. Eventually the ringing just stops and I calm down. If you're having a hard time fixing your issues, at least don't let them get worse. Fight!
—Guest xif

My brain is slow

Phone anxiety runs in my family. My sister described how it was in her family when her kids were young- if the phone rang, her children ran away from it in all directions! I feel like my brain is too slow to follow a phone conversation somehow, not really sure why, since face to face conversation goes at the same speed, and that's fine. It could be that I rely on facial and bodily cues a lot. I have to call people as part of my computer customer service work, and we have lost a couple of customers because I put if off and put it off, while obsessing about whether I'll be able to answer the complicated questions, and worrying about it all day long. If I can get it set up so the people call me, things go better. I find sitting meditation helps, but I need a LOT of it to offset the anxiety.
—Guest Ann

I shake!

I'm 16 and I always thought talking on the phone just annoyed me... Until I had to start calling businesses to talk about applications. I literally shake, and have to write down what I'm going to say. Talking on the phone with friends and family doesn't bother me, but I'd still rather text or email. But whenever it's a stranger, even if it's just to ask what time a business closes, I agonize about what to say and what I'll sound like. I put off calls for as long as I can then feel bad because I'm really not a procrastinator at all in other areas of my life. Now I'm trying to get a job, and I just don't know how I'll deal with making all of the follow up calls....
—Guest Katie

Similar Story

Finding this certainly makes me feel so not alone. If only I had people in my social circle/work/family that could relate. I don't seem to have a problem with people face to face although group settings are avoided - such as church, parties. The phone thing has just gotten so out of hand and I am in no mood to talk it over with a therapist. The thought of that is almost as bad as talking on the phone. I too have lost countless friends. My boss is getting increasingly irritated when I don't answer his calls - not at work but when he has a question on my days off he will call and I avoid answering or returning his call. Even some of my family members have been hurt because I don't call them. I can call my husband and my parents but that is it without issue but anyone else - forget it. It's the worst possible feeling. I wish people would be more understanding but they aren't. I will email or talk in person but the phone - forget it!
—Guest guest too

insecurities, low self steem ?

I am 28. I have been dealing with low self steem/anxiety for like 10 years. Something happened that wrecked my nerves when I was 18 and I have been dealing with it all this time with no medication (maybe one year on them). My hair was falling like crazy at 19 and was almost completely bald at 20. Only recently I have been making progress by myself because really there is nothing else and no one else. I have long list of insecurities and this phone thing was one of them. But I have gotten better, my hair is actually growing , I can see stubs that were not there. The reason I am writing this is because if you have a fear such as this is because there is a root for it. I know all my fears were because of the same root and thus fixing that I am becoming normal, little by little. I made a phone call today to check why an order wasn't going through with paypal. I place it, end of story, no reason to think it over.
—Guest dave

Not quite a phobia, but still sucky

I've had this problem for a while now, but it's gotten worse the older I've gotten. I didn't used to have this problem when I was a teenager, young adult (I'm 30 now). But now, there are 5 people that I will call and talk to, no problem. My parents, my husband, my brother, and my best friend. That's it. Everyone else, I either have to suck it up and rehearse in my head wheat I'm going to say, or I just don't do it. I just got some birthday cards in the mail from some members of my husband's family (that I have no problem talking to in person), and we just got into a fight about whether or not I was going to call and thank them. Just the idea of doing that makes me start to panic, and he thinks I'm being ridiculous. I don't know if I can go so far as to say that this is a phobia for me, because I can do it if I have to. I would much prefer to talk to strangers than people I know, however. Order pizza, call the doctor, call my kids' schools, no problem. Call my sister-in-law? Can't do it
—rweber82

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