Telephobia: How to get over fear of phone calls

For some people, making or answering the phone is an anxiety-inducing experience. The fear is called telephobia and is surprisingly common.  

An expert said telephobia is more noticeable in younger people but thankfully there is a way to make picking up the phone easier.

On average, people spend about five hours a day on their phones but fewer and fewer people are using it for calling.

Phone call anxiety is real and, according to a recent UK survey, it affects nearly half of Baby Boomers and more than 70 percent of Millennials.

Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland said telephobia is nothing new.

"I remember back in the day when I first started off in my first real adult job, I had an anxiety about ringing on the phone and talking to people," Dr Sutherland told The Project. 

"I do think it's gotten worse over time as we can use other methods of communication rather than just having to pick up the phone."

He thinks it's the unknown that gives people phone anxiety.

"There's a bit of the unknown, right, 'What's this person thinking of… What are they saying, what are they looking like'," he said.

Dr Sutherland said telephobia is definitely more noticeable in younger people.
Dr Sutherland said telephobia is definitely more noticeable in younger people. Photo credit: The Project

Dr Sutherland said telephobia is definitely more noticeable in younger people, but as we get older we get used to it.

"You realise that actually, people don't really care much about you, sadly. But when you're young, I think it's like, 'Oh my god, what will they think about', so it's a bit like a bit of social anxiety," Dr Sutherland said.

His advice for telephobia sufferers is to pick up the phone and call someone, over and over again.

"Have a week where you just ring people up on the phone randomly and get a whole lot of practice because the more you do it, the more you practise it, the easier it will get."

But for those still shuddering at the thought of hitting the ring button - maybe just send a text instead.

"The phone is kind of weird now… maybe it's a thing of the past," Dr Sutherland said.

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