Telephonophobia: The Fear of Talking on the Phone
Do you often catch yourself avoiding phone calls?
Do you panic when someone you barely know calls you?
Do you send text messages instead with some excuse for not talking?
This extreme reaction could be due to a condition called Telephonophobia, or the fear of talking on the phone. This might sound unusual, but many people face this issue.
Unfortunately, not being able to have a normal conversation over the phone is not just inconvenient. It can affect your daily activities and career prospects. How then can you overcome this phobia?
What Causes Telephonophobia?
You may be wondering, “Why are phone calls so scary?” The answer can get complicated since this phobia is a mix of several social disorders.
Eerie Phone Ring
Do you shudder at the sound of a ringing telephone? That’s not unusual. Landlines usually make an attention-grabbing noise to alert people of a call. Mobile phones have adopted this standard ring tone, although a lot of people use personalized alerts instead.
Unfortunately, you may find that this ringing sound gives you the heebie-jeebies. For some, there’s a traumatic memory associated with that sound. It can come from watching a scary movie, a ransom call, or bad dreams.
The Caller on the Other End
As a child, if you have been bullied, mocked, or made fun of on the telephone, this could result in the fear of talking on the phone. It might seem unimportant as an adult. But if you are unable to forget how you felt, it might lead to phone phobia.
Hearing Bad News
Some people who have faced a traumatic event develop a phobia of some sort. Have you ever received bad news over the phone? It may be the demise of someone close to you. Perhaps you were informed about losing a job or anything that meant a great deal to you. While dealing with the consequences of the loss, you may suddenly develop a fear of talking on the phone.
Some people are genuinely afraid of talking on the phone because they believe it exposes them to harmful waves. They think that lifting a receiver or smartphone to their ear poses a danger to their health. While it seems irrational, there are some concerns about being constantly exposed to these waves.
There is no set pattern or definitive reason for Telephonophobia causes, as everybody’s trauma arises from a different reason.
In some cases, this phobia is closely linked to other mental or social conditions.
Social anxiety is one of the top reasons that people develop a phobia of talking on phone. People with low self-esteem are afraid of how they will sound on the phone. They overthink things and have internal monologues that like:
What should I say?
Am I wasting the caller’s time?
These insecurities hold them back from having a normal conversation on the phone.
Another reason for developing a phone phobia is having speech disorders like a stutter. If a person has difficulty with articulation or fluency, they won’t feel confident about talking on the phone.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Although OCD is different from phobias, research suggests a link between the two. Experts believe that most personality disorders are interrelated, especially if the cause is untreated trauma.
Symptoms of Telephonophobia
Are you uncertain if you or someone you know is struggling with it? Consult a professional and ask for a Telephonophobia test to be sure. The physical and physiological symptoms are fairly easy to spot.
● Stomach pains
● Rapid heartbeat
● Dry mouth
● Panic Attacks
● Avoid taking phone calls
● Prefers texting over talking on the phone
● Gets visibly scared when a telephone rings
● Mobile phone is always on silent mode
Self-Help Techniques that Work
How do you treat Telephonophobia? If you’ve taken the phone phobia test, you are probably looking for a cure. Mild phobias can be treated with some self-care techniques while professional help is required for extreme cases.
However, many are scared of approaching experts for various reasons. They feel ashamed of this condition or afraid that they will get mocked or judged. Some people can’t afford the cost of professional therapy.
Good thing there are effective self-help strategies for this phobia:
● Maintaining a personal journal and writing about all your thoughts is one of the easiest ways.
● Meditating helps in calming one’s fears and thinking straight.
● Yoga and cardio exercise also help.
If it’s a matter of social anxiety, you can do exercises to help build your confidence while talking with people in general. Here are some of them:
● Write down your negative and positive points every day.
● Reinforce what people think about you by asking for positive feedback.
● List all of your positive traits. Post it somewhere visible.
● Try a course on public speaking to get rid of your fears.
However, these techniques may not be effective if your phobia is already interfering with daily life. If phone phobia at work is disrupting your career, you may want to consult a professional.
Telephonophobia Treatment, Getting Professional Help
Before consulting a professional, take time to remember when you first started being wary of telephone conversations. If you remember when it happened, try to identify the cause. Discuss these with your therapist.
If you have decided to seek medical help for all your troubles, here are a couple of treatments they might suggest.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This is one of the most common talking therapies. It not only helps the expert to identify the problem but also convinces you to change the way you think about your phobia triggers. They will also take into account if you have a history of other illnesses.
Using specialized techniques, therapists focus on reducing the impact of past trauma. The idea is to rewire or change the way you feel about those traumatic memories by talking about them.
Exposure therapy is another form of talking therapy where the specialist gradually exposes you to your phobia. The goal is to desensitize you and get you used to your trigger. For example, you start by talking about ringing phones, then move on to putting your phone on vibrate until you can take an actual call.
In case you cannot remember where your fear of the telephone originated, psychotherapy helps. However, only ask a certified professional who has experience with this.
Keep in mind that any kind of Telephonophobia treatment will not cure you instantly. It involves a gradual process with a qualified therapist.
How to Avoid It Altogether
Although there’s no way to completely avoid your fears, don’t give up hope. Once you have started treatment, you will soon see a visible change in yourself. People eventually learn to cope with phobias. However, you must continue following your doctor’s instructions and taking timely remedies for that.
If you have a mild case of Telephonophobia, you may not have to worry about it. According to a 2019 study, 40% of baby boomers and 70% of millennials get anxious when the phone rings. Although you are not alone, you must figure out a way to live with it comfortably so that it does not disrupt your lifestyle.
There are many ways to end your phobia of talking on the phone. To do this, you need to identify and resolve the issues that caused this fear. It may take some time, but eventually, you will get there. Instead of rejecting incoming calls, you’ll soon answer them with a smile.