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BTD Forums  /  Nonnie Clubhouse  /  Dealing with phone anxiety
Posted by: TJ, Saturday, May 21, 2011, 10:20pm
Do any other nonnies out there suffer with this?

It hasn't been long since I realized this, but there's something about using the telephone that makes me very tense.  Whenever someone calls me, the phone ringing is an anxiety trigger, even if it doesn't startle me.

The good thing is that I can ignore the call if I don't feel like dealing with it right now; it's a snap decision and it's over with -- unless I actually answer the phone: then it depends on the nature of the call and how I'm feeling atm.  It's worse when I'm trying to make a call than it is when I'm answering one.  I have to work myself up to doing it!  I usually get this even if I'm calling friends or family members that I'm close to and feel safe with.

So yesterday, I was going to make a phone call, and I was present enough to recognize the feeling as it was happening.  Instead of making the phone call, I just sat there with the phone and let myself feel it.  I tried to look inside myself to see where the anxiety was coming from, but I couldn't see it.

I have a very vague idea about the root of this, but nothing close to certain.  What can I do to work through this?  It drives me crazy that I'd rather spend an hour traveling to get the information in person than to just make a 5 minute phone call. (dizzy) ??) (think) :o (mad)
Posted by: Victoria, Saturday, May 21, 2011, 11:55pm; Reply: 1
I don't know about the phone specifically, but I've always been plagued with various "irrational" anxieties.  I can see how it could be a nonnie trait for some of us, considering some of the conversations I've seen around here.

I have a phone with a good ringer volume control.  It's turned down to the lowest setting so that I can't even hear it if I'm in a different room.  I don't like to be shocked by a loud sound in my house that I'm not expecting.
Posted by: O in Virginia, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 12:05am; Reply: 2
Yes, TJ!  I think I know how you feel.  I find phone calls intrusive.  When the phone rings I immediately feel anxious like I have to jump to it.  The ringing of the phone is disruptive and startling, nerve-jangling really.  I don't like talking on the phone, though I'm better at making calls (because I can prepare in advance) than receiving unexpected ones.  I feel much better when I can talk to someone face to face, although there are some people I enjoy conversing with so I can calm down and get comfortable in the phone conversation after a minute or two.  It's not always awful, but the ringing of the phone itself is irritating.  And I hate having my picture taken, too, but that's a different subject.   :-/

Anyway...good for you for trying to explore this feeling to find the root of it.  I think it will come to you as you continue practicing the mindful exercise.  I'd love to know more about it, if you feel like sharing later.  Might give me some insight too!
Posted by: TJ, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 12:15am; Reply: 3
Quoted from O in Virginia
I feel much better when I can talk to someone face to face, although there are some people I enjoy conversing with so I can calm down and get comfortable in the phone conversation after a minute or two.
I'm so there.  After I'm into the conversation it's a lot easier.  It's like, "Hey, this isn't so bad after all!"  except that I have to relearn it every time! >:(
Posted by: TJ, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 12:16am; Reply: 4
Quoted from Victoria
I don't know about the phone specifically, but I've always been plagued with various "irrational" anxieties.  I can see how it could be a nonnie trait for some of us, considering some of the conversations I've seen around here.
Maybe somebody will come along with some good ideas that can be applied to any of these anxieties.
Posted by: Victoria, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 1:46am; Reply: 5
I think you're handling it well, TJ.  Anytime a person can be present enough to be able to describe an anxiety attack when they're in the middle of it, they are doing pretty well!
Posted by: AKArtlover, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 2:54am; Reply: 6
Two questions you might ask yourself.
Are you mostly a visual person? Do you feel unprepared for the conversation? Is your concern more with understanding or being understood? Most people have dominent preferences of receiving information. Also a whoooole lot of communication is nonverbal.

If you don't consider yourself adept in the auditory rhelm and you are more comfortable communicating or listening visually, this may be the root.

I often remember faces. Names (verbal) not so much. Much different when I see a name and then associate it with a person.

Maybe just get a clear thought in your mind about the purpose of the call and then before you pick up the phone picture yourself pleasantly thinking about the conversation outcome that you want to occur after you hang up. Get a visual of you doing whatever you will be doing after feeling good about it.

Anxiety is imagining the outcome you don't want. Imagining what you want is the antidote.

Another technique is imagining the possible worst outcome that could happen. If you could survive that, it puts it into perspective. What if you communicated so poorly with the person that they became so angry at the situation that they came over to your home and busted into the door and shot you dead?

Not very likely. And pretty laughable. Other than that, no sweat, most things work out. Relax. Laugh at your fear and it disappears.  

Just my take.  Forgive me if this makes no sense or sounds trite. Super tired and attempting to be helpful.  ;)

They know some things you don't know. You know some things they don't know. You know?


Sweet dreams.... :)





Posted by: brinyskysail, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 2:58am; Reply: 7
You are totally not alone; I feel the same way.  I have ALWAYS hated the phone.  I felt like crying the year that my dad got me a cell phone for Christmas because I knew people would be more easily able to call me.  (we finally settled on me just keeping it in the car in case of emergencies)  My mom calls me "miss phone personality" because on the phone I just say "yes" and "no" and I'm very monotone, even though I would carry out a normal conversation if I were having the same conversation in person, face to face.  I think the face to face thing may be the reason I don't like the phone.  I don't like that I can't see the other person.  That even bugs me sometimes when I read things people type online - I can't see their body language so I don't always know exactly how to interpret what they've said or if they are being genuine.

I understand how you feel though.  Unless I'm expecting an important call I don't answer the phone, and I practice what I'm going to say before making any phone calls.  The most difficult calls for me to make are the ones that should be the easiest, like calling a store to see if they're open on Tuesdays or something dumb like that.  I have noticed that I've gotten a little better about this recently, though.  I had been having major depression and became extremely withdrawn as a result of all of the health problems I've been having, but I had decided to try homeopathy for my physical symptoms, and although it has (at least so far) done nothing for my physical symptoms, I cannot even describe the miracle that has occurred mentally and emotionally - It's like I've been raised from the dead!  Six months ago I had been so depressed and disgusted with everything that I didn't even feel human or consider myself to be human anymore.  I felt like someone else had entered my body.  The real me still existed but was somewhere distant and I couldn't find her.  As the homeopathic treatments continued I became increasingly less depressed and after the last dose I took of my remedy I have really made improvements.  I feel so much more alive and so much more like me.  It's hard to describe, but it's amazing.  Then I had my "epiphany" that I wrote about in the "life lessons" thread, and things have been even more amazing since then.  It has made a difference in my ability to communicate with others.  I was so...aloof, I guess, before that my people skills and communication abilties were terrible (that was also part of the reason for my phone anxiety), but now I can both speak and listen to people better.

Ok, I just rambled a lot, and I don't know if any of that is going to be of any use to you, but I really understand the phone thing so I thought I should reply.
Posted by: upnorth6, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 10:16am; Reply: 8
Quoted from TJ
Do any other nonnies out there suffer with this?

It hasn't been long since I realized this, but there's something about using the telephone that makes me very tense.  Whenever someone calls me, the phone ringing is an anxiety trigger, even if it doesn't startle me.

The good thing is that I can ignore the call if I don't feel like dealing with it right now; it's a snap decision and it's over with -- unless I actually answer the phone: then it depends on the nature of the call and how I'm feeling atm.  It's worse when I'm trying to make a call than it is when I'm answering one.  I have to work myself up to doing it!  I usually get this even if I'm calling friends or family members that I'm close to and feel safe with.

So yesterday, I was going to make a phone call, and I was present enough to recognize the feeling as it was happening.  Instead of making the phone call, I just sat there with the phone and let myself feel it.  I tried to look inside myself to see where the anxiety was coming from, but I couldn't see it.

I have a very vague idea about the root of this, but nothing close to certain.  What can I do to work through this?  It drives me crazy that I'd rather spend an hour traveling to get the information in person than to just make a 5 minute phone call. (dizzy) ??) (think) :o (mad)


You were wise to sit with your feelings instead of making the call...that's the way you'll eventually figure it out!

Don't know if I'm a nonnie yet (still need to do my test, I have it, I keep forgetting to do it!)

I have a bit of a dislike for the phone as well. I have learned that there are times when I don't want to be interrupted or deal with anyone. In those times I turn the ringers off....I figure I have an answering machine, and voice mail on my cell, (even e-mail) if it's that important they can leave me a message. This way I can be better prepared to handle what ever it is when I get back to them.

There are times when I have anxiety over making a phone call. For me personally I have discovered that the anxiety stems from me not knowing "where I stand" with the person on the other end of the line. I don't know how I will be recieved

I like to know where I stand with people....I like to know where I fit....does that make sense?

I have also found I dislike the thought that I may be interrupting someone or being an intrusion to their day.....but realistically that is not my problem...they have to choose whether or not to take my call.

I also know that I can be very prone to not wanting to step outside of my "routine"......making random phone calls to doctors, vets, schools etc...is out of my daily routine.....that causes great stress, because I find I can "relax" when I know my routine....to combat this....I plan ahead and block off a portion of time to make the calls on my list.  

Posted by: Amazone I., Sunday, May 22, 2011, 11:21am; Reply: 9
those are all psyche patterns related to the INTJ-psychegram!!!

Once learned how you're ticking... all is over ;) integration of the shadow is da zauberword here ;) :D....

we're all doing, creating those things ourselfs... but for another time...remember it well you don't have.... whatever... but you're it!!!
Here I think the so called bodytalking system is a wonderful aid, EFT, yoga tai-chi.... :D....and of course the Don Miguel Ruiz system as well.....once understood... no fear nor anything similar is able to disturb you.... let me tell you...going for a fine walk and relaxing issues for mood and body are the next to
practise.... all no 5ves in the enneagram suffer +- from a sort of inner tension.... as long as we don't work on it... it will last... so far...please take you for serious and work on such patterns....

(smarty)(pray)(happy)


as my beloved old advaita teacher Jean Klein once told me: Isa... have a look what you're NOT!!!!!
Nobody is....& nobody has...... so please half of mine...who's suffering then ??) ;) ;D ;D  yup my dearle you're right...the self is empty.....(sunny)
why do I try to make you understand this ....coz in the moment YOU'll have understood, you can let go fear and tension... and they won't take care anymore of you....(clown)... this was primordial once for me and saved literally my life....while having been obliged to let go all in my life instantly.... so far I only can recommend the practise ....(whistle)(ok)(dance)

but remember it always... INTJ's are very rare birdies.....read the patterns of no 5 and 6 in the enneagram, also the decline of *desintegrative ways*... !!!
It also depends how toughy your NT-part is..... are you more 5 or your edge called 6= istp/J ??)....
Posted by: koahiatamadl, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 12:38pm; Reply: 10
Hmm, not sure I would call my feelings anxiety but I do put off phone calls that are not purely social.  And my work mobile is on silent at all times and the office land line is diverted to the mobile - I'll answer it when I'm good and ready and nine times out of ten I'll let it go to voicemail and call people back.  

I think my natural inclination would be to communicate in writing.  But I have found that once I get round to making that call it is normally a pleasant experience and much easier than a prolonged email exchange, where there is much more scope for misinterpretation because you can get a lot of clues from somebody's voice.  And by being forced to make those calls I was putting off they are becoming much less of an issue and I am becoming much happier to just make the call - seems to be a skill one can learn ;)    
Posted by: Amazone I., Sunday, May 22, 2011, 12:54pm; Reply: 11
;D ;D ;D it seems to underline my writings above huh??) ;) thanx for the confirmation k-madl ;) and hey nice to see you back again (clap)(ok)(dance)
Posted by: RedLilac, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 1:21pm; Reply: 12
I don’t like talking on the phone.  I’d rather send e-mails or FB messages.  I prefer short to the point conversations, I don’t like long chit chat.  I’ve got a friend who doesn’t like to use e-mail or FB 7 when she calls it is long drawn out. Usually she calls while I’m in the middle of something else & I feel rude for trying to cut her off.
My Mother was a phone-a-holic.  Back in the late 50’s early 60’s we go to the drug store that had a soda fountain.  I’d sit there or look through the comic books while my Mom sat in a superman type phone booth making calls.

I call my son & relay my message.  His calls to me are always short & sweet.  He calls every night to make sure I’m OK.

Sometimes I have to make calls at work if I can’t get away with e-mails.  I put them off as long as possible.  In the office, I walk over to someone’s desk more often than calling them.  I get to stretch a bit doing that.

Some people have jobs where they are on the phone constantly.  I couldn’t handle that.
Posted by: Kristin, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 1:56pm; Reply: 13
Quoted from Victoria
I don't know about the phone specifically, but I've always been plagued with various "irrational" anxieties.  I can see how it could be a nonnie trait for some of us, considering some of the conversations I've seen around here.

I have a phone with a good ringer volume control.  It's turned down to the lowest setting so that I can't even hear it if I'm in a different room.  I don't like to be shocked by a loud sound in my house that I'm not expecting.


Not I nonnie but I have had issues on and off with the phone - more often in calling for information about something. I have also had irrational anxieties at various times throughout my life. In looking back, when I have something outside of myself to focus on, the anxieties tend to dissipate. The ringing of the phone I find very jarring... also the ringing of the alarm clock. I had one of those Zen alarm clocks for years that chimed instead of rang... so much better!!

Quoted from AKArtlover
Two questions you might ask yourself.
Are you mostly a visual person? Do you feel unprepared for the conversation? Is your concern more with understanding or being understood? Most people have dominent preferences of receiving information. Also a whoooole lot of communication is nonverbal.

If you don't consider yourself adept in the auditory rhelm and you are more comfortable communicating or listening visually, this may be the root.


Very good points!! I realized years ago that I cannot focus auditorily unless I am moving. I have to move to get it. If I am sitting and listening, forget it! I can focus for about 20 minutes and then my mind begins to wander... Visual stimulation helps, like slides during a pp presentation, but then I read the slides and do not hear the presenter. It is one of the reasons that I do not attend the IfHI conferences: I don't "get" most of the presentations because I am sitting *trying* to listen. Not a good way for me to get anything. How I made it through all those years of schooling, I'll never know.... except that I was a dance minor during college so I did get lots of movement in each day with a cross lateral focus - good for brain wiring. Grad school was dance therapy which was totally movement based. Every class had some movement involved so it was very easy for me to focus and assimilate in that context.


Posted by: Kim, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 2:05pm; Reply: 14
I just don't answer the phone if I don't want to.  If it is important, they will leave a voice mail.  I call back if I feel like it or call back later when I am ready to talk.  We only use cell phones in our house.  Got rid of the landlines to save money.
Posted by: brinyskysail, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 2:49pm; Reply: 15
Quoted from Amazone I.
those are all psyche patterns related to the INTJ-psychegram!!!


Well, I guess that helps explain it for this INTJ.  Very interesting stuff, Amazone
Posted by: pegf1008, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 2:59pm; Reply: 16
I have ALWAYS had a problem with people calling me, even as a child. I also prefer to do any business face to face rather than by telephone. Even email is easier for me than phone conversations, and I think that is because I have a harder time understanding what others say and also making myself understood. I remember, though, as a child I was grounded because I refused to take a phone call from a class mate, and I remember many times getting extremely angry with my parents when they would make me talk to my sisters on the phone. Now I do better if I make the phone call than if I get one. I have caller ID so I can determine if the person calling is someone I want to talk to and I feel comfortable not answering it if I don't want to talk and especially if the caller ID cannot ID the person.
(I also hate having my picture taken, like O in Virginia)
Posted by: Amazone I., Sunday, May 22, 2011, 4:14pm; Reply: 17
pegf1008 might it be that you're an 8/9 in the enneagram...so called ENFJ  ??) ;) ;D
reluctancy belongs almost to no 9.... but it must be understod why!!!!....sometimes even no 1 has similarities but the issue is something completely different  :D ...
ooh yea...the eneagram is very interesting.... 8)

dearest half of mine A-friend  and hello explorer as well :D... yup but easy to be found in the http://www.enneagramistitute.com and / or MBTI... or justamente....the little workout of C.G.Jungsche psychology ;) ;D....(hehe)

btw... yup the book "wisdom of the enneagram* is nothing but amazing... the books of Prof. Dr. Keirsey aren't that bad... *please understand me I & II* but then giftsdiffering of Briggs-Myers is enchanting to understand  ;)
btw... we seem to have a lot in common, me too soy,lactose,grain...etc..-free :D...are you also an A2??) (grin)
Posted by: Victoria, Sunday, May 22, 2011, 4:27pm; Reply: 18
Quoted from Kristin

The ringing of the phone I find very jarring... also the ringing of the alarm clock. I had one of those Zen alarm clocks for years that chimed instead of rang... so much better!!

I realized years ago that I cannot focus auditorily unless I am moving. I have to move to get it. If I am sitting and listening, forget it! I can focus for about 20 minutes and then my mind begins to wander...


Me too!  Nothing ruins my day like being awakened by an alarm clock!  A couple of years ago, I bought a Zen Timepiece, which is the Zen clock with a brass bowl.  The bowl is struck at the time you set the 'alarm'.  What a wonderful sound to wake up with!

I also relate to the necessity of movement.  I don't learn or retain the data if I'm only hearing it.
Posted by: Amazone I., Sunday, May 22, 2011, 7:32pm; Reply: 19
all about the so called *sensitive personality* ??) ;) ... meou-meou... ;D
Posted by: faithandjoy4, Monday, May 23, 2011, 12:07am; Reply: 20
Hi I can relate I hate when me phone rings unplanned but I know why'....for me the anxiety stems from the fact that that was how I was told my dad past away and that my mom was in the hospital even though both situations where years ago It is still a trigger of fear that bad news is coming...,I work on it daily....I wish you much luck
Posted by: ruthiegirl, Monday, May 23, 2011, 12:23am; Reply: 21
I don't do well on phone calls either. I find the ring startling. I'm a visual person, and I'd much rather SEE the information in front of me than have to listen for it. I don't even like watching movies or TV without subtitles. I can comprehend so much more easily when I can read rather than relying on my ears for the information.

I don't get panic attacks, but I was really, super upset when I found out that I had to make a bunch of phone calls for the upcoming blood drive. I'm not sure I would have volunteered for the blood drive comittee if I'd known there would be phone calls involved! I thought I would just be seeing people in person the day of the drive and putting up fliers around town.

In the end, I psyched myself up for it, made all 20 or so calls (durign business hours, calling home phones, so mostly leaving messages and leaving the head of hte comittee's namd and number for callback.) When i had to do it again for the next blood drive,  I got through it with much less anxiety.

No question, I'm much more social on facebook or email or online than I am through the telephone.
Posted by: honeybee, Monday, May 23, 2011, 3:46am; Reply: 22
I don't have a problem with phoning for business or close family, however, if a friend (or extended relative) is on the line I freak out & my mind jumps around thinking I don't have any interesting news or sharp wit to entertain a phone call  :-/ :B it is a kind of performance anxiety lol.

Definitely more cued into visuals - and pref face to face.

Recommend practicing phone calls on family and colleagues :)
Posted by: AKArtlover, Monday, May 23, 2011, 4:29am; Reply: 23
Quoted from Kristin




Very good points!! I realized years ago that I cannot focus auditorily unless I am moving. I have to move to get it. If I am sitting and listening, forget it! I can focus for about 20 minutes and then my mind begins to wander... Visual stimulation helps, like slides during a pp presentation, but then I read the slides and do not hear the presenter. It is one of the reasons that I do not attend the IfHI conferences: I don't "get" most of the presentations because I am sitting *trying* to listen. Not a good way for me to get anything. How I made it through all those years of schooling, I'll never know.... except that I was a dance minor during college so I did get lots of movement in each day with a cross lateral focus - good for brain wiring. Grad school was dance therapy which was totally movement based. Every class had some movement involved so it was very easy for me to focus and assimilate in that context.




Hubby is auditory digital and kinesthetic and he paces everytime he is on the phone, too! He is musically gifted as well. Drums, guitar, etc. That's really good that you realize about yourself.  You just helped me learn something about him. :)
Posted by: Amazone I., Monday, May 23, 2011, 9:08am; Reply: 24
the highly senstitive person ;) :D.... ;D(cool)
Posted by: O in Virginia, Monday, May 23, 2011, 12:17pm; Reply: 25
I pace around when talking on the phone, too, and I do things with my hands, fidget with things, doodle.  I've always chalked that up to general nervousness.  I can be visual OR auditory but both at one time is distracting for me.  In church, I like to close my eyes to listen to the sermon (priest probably thinks I'm sleeping) to block out visual distractions; and when I'm studying something visually I don't like to talk or listen to someone else talking to me - especially when I'm driving!  I can listen to music and drive, however.  Although depending on the music it can make me zone out and forget where I'm supposed to driving!   :B

Anyway...I have to psych myself up to even call family members.  One aunt and I understand each other.  We've admitted to each other that we're not "phone people", but we email all the time, and we do call when it's something important.  But we've given each other free license to be weird and stiff over the phone without causing or taking offense.  Recently, I called an uncle who lives in the Mississippi delta to check in and see how they're doing wtih the flooding.  I hadn't spoken to him in several years.  At first I felt a bit awkward, but we ended up having a nice conversation.  I was so glad I called, and I think he was, too.  I think you just have to plough through to the other side.  I agree with those who have said that practice makes it a bit easier.  But my telephone social skills get rustly really quickly, as they don't come naturally.
Posted by: SquarePeg, Monday, May 23, 2011, 6:45pm; Reply: 26
TJ, I have this issue, too.  Before I make a call, I rehearse what I'd like to say.   If it's a call to a friend or relative, I'll pretend that I'm talking with someone and go over all the goings on in my life that I'd want to share.  If it's business related, I write out all the questions I want answered and write the answers down as they come.

Usually when the phone rings, the caller asks for my wife, and I can get away quickly.  If my wife isn't home or plays the "I don't want to talk to her now" game, then sometimes this happens.

Since I'm a fairly lousy conversationalist on the phone, I rarely get callers asking for me, unless they're asking for money or conducting a survey.  And that's easy to handle: "Put my on your Do Not Call list."

I wonder if it might be related to Asperger Syndrome because I have an Internet friend who does exactly the same thing.
Posted by: Symbi, Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 4:29am; Reply: 27
Good point Squarepeg about aspergers.  Wonder if it's something about listening with only one ear and having sensory integration problems.  I feel dizzy on the phone and also have trouble hearing and speaking at the same time!

Totally empathise.  For some reason I get really nervous and childlike on the phone like I don't think anyone would like to speak on the phone to me - probably cos I don't like talking on it!  Used to talking to my Mum but awkward silences and things with other people where you don't know what they mean and can't read the body language  ??) :X :P

Also panic when it rings mostly so that's not good!

They reckon Alexander Graham Bell cursed his invention as it interrupted sleep and meals.
Posted by: Possum, Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 5:03am; Reply: 28
I wonder if all this phone anxiety could have anything to do with Nonnies & Explorers & the extra sensory stuff in the "airwaves"??!!

That said - although I sometimes have to be in the mood to ring certain people... I have no real fear of using the phone per se...It is & has been part of my work for a long time ;)

I just remembered I will get "funny" ocassionally about ringing people if I think someone else is listening (& possibly disapproving as they can only hear part of the conversation & I don't have the time or inclination to explain myself?!

My boss sometimes gets me to ring difficult customers for her, as she gets flustered & tongue tied especially if it necessitates leaving a msg...
Posted by: mikeo, Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 8:20pm; Reply: 29
coming from a sales background...phone work can be challenging...fear of failure is one aspect of not wanting to pick up the phone in a business setting...finding out what your call ratio is...yes to no ratio is comforting...getting 10 no's to get a yes can be a goal.Keeping score to improve your ratio is a nice game you can play

As for the ringing there are phones now where you can customize the ring to a nice classical piece like Ode to Joy

The phone can be a vehicle to spread your goodness...just the act of smiling when you answer the phone can reduce the anxiety....smile and dial
Posted by: SophiaVictoria, Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 9:40pm; Reply: 30
Thank goodness those screechy ringtones are evolving!   ;D
Posted by: TJ, Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 11:59pm; Reply: 31
Quoted from Victoria
I think you're handling it well, TJ.  Anytime a person can be present enough to be able to describe an anxiety attack when they're in the middle of it, they are doing pretty well!
I wouldn't call it an anxiety attack, but I get what you're saying. ;)  Thanks!

Quoted from AKArtlover
Two questions you might ask yourself.
Are you mostly a visual person? Do you feel unprepared for the conversation? Is your concern more with understanding or being understood? Most people have dominent preferences of receiving information. Also a whoooole lot of communication is nonverbal.x

If you don't consider yourself adept in the auditory rhelm and you are more comfortable communicating or listening visually, this may be the root.
I'm undoubtedly a visually dominant person.  I think you're on to something with the nonverbal communication thought.  I can't see you when I'm talking to you on the phone, so I'm missing the body language.   The full range of voice frequencies isn't transmitted over the phone, so I'm also missing some of the tonal cues.

Quoted from AKArtlover
I often remember faces. Names (verbal) not so much. Much different when I see a name and then associate it with a person.
Ditto!

Quoted from AKArtlover
Maybe just get a clear thought in your mind about the purpose of the call and then before you pick up the phone picture yourself pleasantly thinking about the conversation outcome that you want to occur after you hang up. Get a visual of you doing whatever you will be doing after feeling good about it.

Anxiety is imagining the outcome you don't want. Imagining what you want is the antidote.

Another technique is imagining the possible worst outcome that could happen. If you could survive that, it puts it into perspective. What if you communicated so poorly with the person that they became so angry at the situation that they came over to your home and busted into the door and shot you dead?

Not very likely. And pretty laughable. Other than that, no sweat, most things work out. Relax. Laugh at your fear and it disappears.
Definitely good advice.  One of my therapists taught me to ask myself, "What's the worst that can happen?"  It has been a useful strategy!  I haven't really thought about visualizing the ideal outcome.  That merits some consideration.

If only I didn't feel the anxiety in the first place! ::)
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:12am; Reply: 32
Quoted from brinyskysail
The most difficult calls for me to make are the ones that should be the easiest, like calling a store to see if they're open on Tuesdays or something dumb like that.
I totally understand that.  My mind wants to take off in a dozen different directions if I even think about making a phone call.  I have to really focus and reel my attention back in to even consciously make the decision to pick up the phone.  It's definitely harder when I feel down, overstimulated, or under-rested.  If I'm feeling hypomanic, I still have to reel in my attention, but making the call is a piece of cake.

Quoted from brinyskysail
I was so...aloof, I guess, before that my people skills and communication abilities were terrible (that was also part of the reason for my phone anxiety), but now I can both speak and listen to people better.
I understand that point of view.  I was too -- aloof, that is -- and I still get that way when I'm down.  I don't want to say anything, rather than taking the chance of saying something wrong when I don't have it all together mentally/emotionally.  I've spent the last 12-15 years or so consciously trying to improve my own social skills.  Maybe that's another piece of it.
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:19am; Reply: 33
Quoted from upnorth6
I have a bit of a dislike for the phone as well. I have learned that there are times when I don't want to be interrupted or deal with anyone. In those times I turn the ringers off....I figure I have an answering machine, and voice mail on my cell, (even e-mail) if it's that important they can leave me a message. This way I can be better prepared to handle what ever it is when I get back to them.
I do this often myself.  Listening to the message gives me a chance to compose myself before returning the call.  Ideally, we won't need that when we are present and aware, but that's not a regular state of being for me at this point!

Quoted from upnorth6
I like to know where I stand with people....I like to know where I fit....does that make sense?
Absolutely.  This becomes more important to me during times of stress/depression, less so when I'm doing well.  It's especially true if it's somebody who is in a position to make my life harder (or easier); politics???
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:26am; Reply: 34
Quoted from koahiatamadl
But I have found that once I get round to making that call it is normally a pleasant experience and much easier than a prolonged email exchange, where there is much more scope for misinterpretation because you can get a lot of clues from somebody's voice.
This is usually my experience.  Most phone calls are somewhere between neutral and pleasant.

Quoted from RedLilac
I don’t like talking on the phone.  I’d rather send e-mails or FB messages.
Me too!

Quoted from RedLilac
Some people have jobs where they are on the phone constantly.  I couldn’t handle that.
I had one of those, and it drove me nuts.
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:33am; Reply: 35
Quoted from Amazone I.
remember it well you don't have.... whatever... but you're it!!!
I got it! ;)

Quoted from Kristin
I realized years ago that I cannot focus auditorily unless I am moving. I have to move to get it. If I am sitting and listening, forget it!
I pace when I'm on the phone.  My family makes fun of me for it, but I can't just sit still when I'm on a call.  But on some calls you have to write things down, and those seem to be the most stressful ones.  Hmmm... (think)

Listening in contexts other than on the phone is not as challenging.  I actually enjoy the classroom experience -- if it's interactive (not lecture).
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:43am; Reply: 36
Quoted from faithandjoy4
It is still a trigger of fear that bad news is coming...,I work on it daily....I wish you much luck
I was called when my dad had a heart attack, but don't think that's it.  However, I may be associating the phone with other negative things.  Surprises (even non-tragic) and the news of a change in plans, which often come over the phone, can be unsettling.  The mortgage collection job I did was certainly a negative phone experience.

Quoted from ruthiegirl
I don't even like watching movies or TV without subtitles. I can comprehend so much more easily when I can read rather than relying on my ears for the information.
Lol, I can SOOO relate to that!

Quoted from ruthiegirl
No question, I'm much more social on facebook or email or online than I am through the telephone.
Yep.
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:52am; Reply: 37
Quoted from honeybee
:B it is a kind of performance anxiety lol.
Quoted from Amazone I.
the highly senstitive person ;) :D.... ;D(cool)
That's me alright.

Quoted from O in Virginia
when I'm studying something visually I don't like to talk or listen to someone else talking to me - especially when I'm driving!  I can listen to music and drive, however.  Although depending on the music it can make me zone out and forget where I'm supposed to driving!   :B
Driving with music is no problem unless I'm trying to find my way around in unfamiliar territory.  Sleeping is another story: if I can hear music, I can't sleep.

Quoted from O in Virginia
I think you just have to plough through to the other side.  I agree with those who have said that practice makes it a bit easier.
As with so many things!  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "That which we persist in doing becomes easy to do; not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased."
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:56am; Reply: 38
Quoted from SquarePeg
Usually when the phone rings, the caller asks for my wife, and I can get away quickly.  If my wife isn't home or plays the "I don't want to talk to her now" game, then sometimes this happens.
I hate it when that happens! ;)

Quoted from Symbi
Wonder if it's something about listening with only one ear and having sensory integration problems.
I wonder too.  Ear dominance?

Quoted from Symbi
They reckon Alexander Graham Bell cursed his invention as it interrupted sleep and meals.
It doesn't interrupt my sleep unless I forget to turn it off!
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 1:03am; Reply: 39
Quoted from Possum
I just remembered I will get "funny" ocassionally about ringing people if I think someone else is listening (& possibly disapproving as they can only hear part of the conversation & I don't have the time or inclination to explain myself?!
I don't like talking on the phone around other people either.  So I usually plan to make long calls while I'm outside walking, so that means I'm usually hearing traffic noise in the other ear.  At least I'm not pacing back and forth in a little room! (ok)

Quoted from mikeo
coming from a sales background...phone work can be challenging...fear of failure is one aspect of not wanting to pick up the phone in a business setting...finding out what your call ratio is...yes to no ratio is comforting...getting 10 no's to get a yes can be a goal.Keeping score to improve your ratio is a nice game you can play
I'm happy to say I'm not that deep into the telephone!

Quoted from mikeo
just the act of smiling when you answer the phone can reduce the anxiety....smile and dial
I do; learned that somewhere along the way....  I'm sure I sound more relaxed and happy than I feel!

Sorry for all the posts.  I've been away from the forums for a few days.  Wow, what a lot of catching up!
Posted by: jeanb, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 2:16am; Reply: 40
I think it is more of an extravert vs introvert issue.  I am a raging extrovert and I have a hard time posting.  It feels so impersonal and it takes so long. I like phone calls, I don't need to think and I can just talk.

At work, I don't like the phones ringing more that once or twice and then I have to answer it even though there are about 10 more people on the phones who should answer the lines.

I have a long commute and hands free, so I end up speaking to clients, kids, husband and coworker for the long commute.  I find emails and texts take too long to communicate simple issues.

I have a family of extraverts and we race to pick up the phone, it is definitely our preferred method of communication.

Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 2:45am; Reply: 41
I'm glad SOMEBODY here likes the phone!
Posted by: brinyskysail, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 3:20am; Reply: 42
I definitely agree with the Intro/Extro thing.

Pretty much everyone who posted is a nonnie and/or explorer.  I don't know if being a non-secretor makes someone any more likely to be introverted, but being an explorer does.  I don't necessarily like to "explore" by myself - I wouldn't be communicating with you guys right now if that was the case, but I could never say the things I say here face-to-face.  I love writing, and can communicate through writing, but when I try to communicate by speaking my thoughts never come out how I want them to.  It's interesting though, even though I'm very introverted and have poor verbal communication skills, I have always loved acting.  Put me on a stage and I become totally flamboyant, I'll do or say anything.  maybe it's because then I have a script, and I know what is going to come out of my mouth(think)
Posted by: Tom Martens, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 3:21am; Reply: 43
I like the subtitles too.  It does make understanding certain parts of the movie much easier.

TJ:  was there a certain stressful phone call that you were dreading in the past that could have started this cycle you are participating in?

I don't have any problems with phones.  Sorry ;)
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 4:08am; Reply: 44
Ugh, apparently the forum lost my last post....

Quoted from Tom Martens
TJ:  was there a certain stressful phone call that you were dreading in the past that could have started this cycle you are participating in?
I see several factors already discussed that, all mixed together, are probably enough to account for it: the need to pace while talking but also needing to sometimes write down info from the call (writing while talking and pacing is tricky work ;)); introversion; working at a "phone job" that I hated; the startle factor (even with pleasant, gentle ring tones); and my general tendency toward anxiety.

Add to that, years of stress from bill collector calls!  Every time I got one of those calls it was a reminder that I was in a bad situation that I didn't have the power to change, and the feeling of helplessness is probably the worst stressor there is.  That could explain the incoming call anxiety all by itself, I think, but the anxiety about placing calls myself has to come from elsewhere.
Posted by: Niagreen, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 5:08am; Reply: 45
I really like talking on the phone. I think I like it because I'm shy and really struggle with people face to face. I like listening to things too. But sometimes when I am on the phone I do (completelyweirdlyfornoreason) worry that people can somehow invisage my awkwardness.. that they can see right through my hesitation or fumbling. Or even worse, that they can somehow tell who I am and know everything about my being. I think because I explore so much of myself on a day to day basis, I somehow irrationally believe that others have this ability too.
Posted by: O in Virginia, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:46pm; Reply: 46
Quoted Text
Driving with music is no problem unless I'm trying to find my way around in unfamiliar territory.  Sleeping is another story: if I can hear music, I can't sleep.

Yep, if I'm lost I have to concentrate and turn the radio/music off.

I do like falling asleep to music, however.  Some music is very soothing, especially the weather channel's dreamy music.  It zonks me right out.  Waking up to certain music is nice, too (rather than an alarm clock buzzing or ringing).  If the music is right it gently and gradually lifts you up from dreamland.

I need to return a friend's phone call this morning.  I am feeling, this very minute, quite anxious about it and I'm wondering...why??  TJ, I'm glad you started this thread.  It's not the thought of talking to my friend that makes me feel anxious, I really like her and enjoy talking to her.  It's the thought of picking up the phone and intiating the interaction that takes my breath away and makes my heart pound.  It is so weird.   ::)  I just have to force myself to do it.
Posted by: TJ, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 10:23pm; Reply: 47
Quoted from O in Virginia
It's not the thought of talking to my friend that makes me feel anxious, I really like her and enjoy talking to her.  It's the thought of picking up the phone and intiating the interaction that takes my breath away and makes my heart pound.
I had a thought when reading this.  When we're approaching someone to speak to them, we can see them and read body language to know if they seem to be in a good mood, to see if it seems like a good time to approach, etc.  Not true over the phone.  It's like walking up to someone blind-folded to strike up a conversation.  Once the conversation is going, the anxiety is gone, or lessened, because now you know where you stand.
Posted by: ruthiegirl, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 10:38pm; Reply: 48
Quoted from TJ
Ugh, apparently the forum lost my last post....

I see several factors already discussed that, all mixed together, are probably enough to account for it: the need to pace while talking but also needing to sometimes write down info from the call (writing while talking and pacing is tricky work ;)); introversion; working at a "phone job" that I hated; the startle factor (even with pleasant, gentle ring tones); and my general tendency toward anxiety.

Add to that, years of stress from bill collector calls!  Every time I got one of those calls it was a reminder that I was in a bad situation that I didn't have the power to change, and the feeling of helplessness is probably the worst stressor there is.  That could explain the incoming call anxiety all by itself, I think, but the anxiety about placing calls myself has to come from elsewhere.


Two theories about your anxiety with making calls:

1) You had that phone job that you hated.

2) You hate receiving calls so much that it extends to making them as well. Placing a call means that you'll have to talk on the phone. Maybe there's also some kind of fear of placing somebody else in the position of having to answer the phone?
Posted by: brinyskysail, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 11:14pm; Reply: 49
Quoted from ruthiegirl


Two theories about your anxiety with making calls:

1) You had that phone job that you hated.

2) You hate receiving calls so much that it extends to making them as well. Placing a call means that you'll have to talk on the phone. Maybe there's also some kind of fear of placing somebody else in the position of having to answer the phone?


This makes sense.  I don't like calling people who don't like to talk on the phone because, since i don't like to talk on the phone, I understand how they feel.  I also don't like calling people who like to talk on the phone because I feel like I'll get trapped talking to them forever.
Posted by: honeybee, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 2:51am; Reply: 50
Quoted from TJ
I had a thought when reading this.  When we're approaching someone to speak to them, we can see them and read body language to know if they seem to be in a good mood, to see if it seems like a good time to approach, etc.  Not true over the phone.  It's like walking up to someone blind-folded to strike up a conversation.  Once the conversation is going, the anxiety is gone, or lessened, because now you know where you stand.


I have this same thought also, don't worry, this is where screening calls is handy for them too ;)
Posted by: honeybee, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 3:01am; Reply: 51
Quoted from Niagreen
I really like talking on the phone. I think I like it because I'm shy and really struggle with people face to face. I like listening to things too.


Ah, this struck a chord with me, I realised the mobile phone has been an absolute boon for my close relative who can not talk to me at home, but can call me and chat openly and lengthily on the phone! This may sound strange, it is! But mental illness throws up these weird and difficult situations.

SO, I am truly grateful to the mobile phone being an enabler in this situation, for someone who has difficulty expressing themselves in one situation, but can feel totally themselves on the phone - truly it makes me happy, even though I myself only use the phone for 'practical' type calls, I have learnt to tap it and work it to add this whole entire new dimension into my relationship with this relative. So there you go, odd story for the day ;)
Posted by: TJ, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 3:23am; Reply: 52
Quoted from brinyskysail
This makes sense.  I don't like calling people who don't like to talk on the phone because, since i don't like to talk on the phone, I understand how they feel.  I also don't like calling people who like to talk on the phone because I feel like I'll get trapped talking to them forever.
D***ed if you do, d***ed if you don't!
Posted by: brinyskysail, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 3:49am; Reply: 53
Quoted from TJ
D***ed if you do, d***ed if you don't!


;)exactly
Posted by: O in Virginia, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 1:25pm; Reply: 54
Quoted from TJ
I had a thought when reading this.  When we're approaching someone to speak to them, we can see them and read body language to know if they seem to be in a good mood, to see if it seems like a good time to approach, etc.  Not true over the phone.  It's like walking up to someone blind-folded to strike up a conversation.  Once the conversation is going, the anxiety is gone, or lessened, because now you know where you stand.


Quoted from ruthiegirl

...
2) You hate receiving calls so much that it extends to making them as well. Placing a call means that you'll have to talk on the phone. Maybe there's also some kind of fear of placing somebody else in the position of having to answer the phone?


These both make sense.  I'm so hyper aware of the other person's tone over the phone.  Maybe I feel like they're as irritated by phone calls as I am - even when I am returning theirs!  I always ask, "Is this a good time to talk?" when I've called.  Always, without fail.  I think I have the notion that I'm being intrusive.
Posted by: AKArtlover, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 1:35pm; Reply: 55
Quoted from O in Virginia
.  In church, I like to close my eyes to listen to the sermon (priest probably thinks I'm sleeping) to block out visual distractions;


Me too!
Sometimes I visualize what is going on in the bible passages and I always seem to learn more.


And everyone that came on this post. Who thought this would take all these directions? I think we just nailed all phone anxiety concerns and I could go write a training course for telemarketers.  ;D

I believe message boards are skewed to the introvert side. FB may be skewed a little to the extrovert side. Just a theory that can be stuffed in a sack with many others.  :)

Posted by: AKArtlover, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 1:36pm; Reply: 56
Also, anxiety can be in your gut, literally (bacteria).  ;)
Posted by: O in Virginia, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 2:07pm; Reply: 57
Quoted from AKArtlover
Also, anxiety can be in your gut, literally (bacteria).  ;)


Ah.  That is good to remember, too.  ;)
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