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I've always been a shy person, never really speaking up or trying to take the leader role. But I tried to change and step out of my comfort zone, and now I'm not really afraid of most things. I don't have a problem going in front of 100 people and saying something stupid, or taking responsibility.

What I have a huge problem with though, is making phone calls. Whenever I'm supposed to call someone, I delay it as much as possible, trying to find any possible way around other than making the call by myself. It doesn't matter if I'm calling my client or a girl, or even my mom. The idea of the call itself makes me wanna postpone it as much as possible.

I know that this fear is completely irrational, and that there is like 0.0000000000001% chance that something will go wrong, but that still doesn't help me.

The funny thing is, that I wouldn't mind saying the same thing in person, which doesn't make any sense, because that should be percieved as much more dangerous than just a phone call.

To be completely honest, I don't even recall any bad experience with phone calling, it's probably just because I was always afraid to speak.

Any suggestions how to get over this? I know that the answer to I'm afraid of phone calls is to make a lot of them ... but I'd prefer some smaller step advice.

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Why are you afraid of phone calling? What could go wrong? – Tom Wijsman Oct 28 '11 at 13:46
@TomWijsman there's really nothing that could go wrong, that's why I call it irrational fear. There's no reason to it, I just feel it. Same as some people are afraid of flying on an airplane, even though it's 1000 times safer than driving a car. – Jakub Arnold Oct 28 '11 at 13:59
I have the exact same issue... It's just like you said - it's not that I'm afraid of something specific going wrong, it's just the phone call itself. I don't have any great advice - my issue just got better with practice, though it's still there. Good luck dealing with yours! – weronika Oct 30 '11 at 21:54
I have a similar issue with the phone - I think in my case it is that I feel more comfortable with physical cues than auditory cues so I don't feel as in control during phone calls. I am not as confident that the conversation is being perceived the way I think it is. – KennyPeanuts Nov 2 '11 at 13:55
Do you have a similar fear when using other medium such as Skype? – tehnyit Nov 11 '11 at 14:01
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Well, you're right when you say the best step to face it is logically to make a phone call. But since you're stuck without any chances to make a real one, why don't you make a fake phone call?

Pretend you are calling someone and say whatever you would say to that person. If possible, try to simulate her answer (making a different voice). And there you go: you have a rehearsal phone call! I know that might sound stupid, but that's how actors lose their fear and that helps that to get into stage.

If you think that sound too much to you, I would suggest asking a friend to help you simulate that. But try no to do that with him/her being in the same room.

If none of that work, I think going to a specialist which may do this kind of games and also talk to you, might also help a lot.

In my case, I haven't had that specific problem, but I had similar problems. And I would say my girlfriend was really helpful in me having attitude and facing the problems, along with some therapy (which was also a good support).

But generally, don't worry, if you want to get better you will, even if it takes some time. Be patient, because things doesn't happen over night, but you will be surprised how much you can improve and that stays forever with you.

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Sometimes I face the same problem -- not for all phone calls -- and here is what I do:

  1. Take a sheet of paper and write the name and the phone number on top of it (easy)
  2. Write down the first thing you want to say (easy)
  3. Make a bullet list with the things you want to speak about (easy)
  4. Write down how you want to end the call -- like "I'll call you again next week" (easy)
  5. Now immediately go to the top of your sheet and dial the number...

This works fine for me, because as it is not a problem to write those things on paper I'm not trying to delay it, and once everything is prepared just don't think about it too much and dial the number :)

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I have a similar problem and found that scripting my calls has been very helpful. Sometimes, I even type up specific things I want to say instead of just making bullet points. After all, I think, if I'm satisfied with the writing, I'll be satisfied with the speaking, and less can go wrong. Alternately, I try to schedule face-to-face meetings--even something as informal as a quick visit to a colleague's desk. Those I'm fine with; it's just the phone that makes me neurotic. – dwwilson66 Dec 26 '14 at 21:46

I would say try to call the person face to face. IE. have a friend or someone you are very comfortable with be in the same room as you. then you can make the phone call to him/her and talk to him/her in person, but on the phone, hopefully this will relieve your fear and then you can start from there and proceed to move the person further away until they are in the next room.

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I know exactly how you feel. I have the exact same problem; I can get myself to sing in front a crowd of people that I've never met, but I have a really hard time making a simple phone call.

Sometimes it also helps to put yourself in situations where you're forced to make a call. Recently I wanted help building something and I asked my girlfriend's father and he asked me to call some guy about delivering some building materials, and since I didn't want to look like an a** in front of him, I had to make the call. It was over in a couple of seconds and it helped me get a little more used to it.

This probably sounds a bit cliché, but you have to force yourself to do it. Don't think about it at all, just dial the number and call. You mustn't consider what you're doing before it's too late and you'll be forced to go through with it. My heart usually starts beating a little faster and I get extremely nervous, but it all passes when I'm actually talking to the person and it all seems kind of anti-climatic and stupid. But basically, challenge yourself to do it when you need to, shut your brain down completely and just press the call button.

The more calls you make the better, usually when I've successfully made a call I stop being nervous about it, but if I haven't made a call in a while the anxiety comes back.

Also, I can definitely recommend pgras's approach.

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When I used to be afraid of making calls, it felt more ok the more formal the call was. I still don't like making casual calls to people I don't know well, because it's not as definite what you're going to say, it's like comparing dancing Waltz to more freestyle dancing. The former is is ok while the second is terrifying.

So make a list of very safe calls.

  • Call your bank to check the amount on your account.
  • Call a store and ask if they have product X in store.
  • Call a restaurant to order a table for yourself and a friend.
  • Call automatic services where you don't even talk to a person.
  • Call for pizza delivery.

Then ramp up the level of discomfort when you're cool with the most safe calls.

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One trick I've done for myself is to break the call into two steps:

  1. Decide that call is worth making, pick the best time to make it, and schedule it.
  2. When that time comes, make the call.

This should go a long way to stop the procrastination around making the call. When the time comes you should have zero excuses. It might not stop the fear you feel when you are dialing, but you need to trust that you made the correct choices when you were calm and rational. You might even be able convince yourself that you should hurry because each minute you wait is a 'worse' time to make the call.

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