Phone Anxiety, or Remembering We Are Not Machines…

I just got off the phone with an editing client; we had an awesome conversation—she is a writer with real potential to go far with her work, and I am going to help her get there! I am confident in the material I provided her in my written critique and in the phone call.

Still, when I got off the phone, I had to lay in bed for an hour to calm my racing heart, to still my breathing.

Confession: I struggle with phone anxiety.

It’s been a hindrance to my work and dating life, but I’m working through it.

For some reason, when I talk on the phone with unfamiliar persons—especially clients, new friends, new dates—my whole body tenses, I hold my breath (forget how to breathe properly), and my heart races. Oftentimes, I say too much or let slip my anxious thoughts (no-no in business and no-no with new people).

The thing is, I know the value I have to offer and the need for the phone as a communication tool, so I push through. But there’s always a period of regrouping, of coming back to normalcy, of calming my breathing and beating heart.

However, I have learned the lesson over the years that oftentimes, the only way to work through a fear is to walk through it. This means walking through the awkwardness, the words you wish you hadn’t spoken, even the rejection. Case in point: After the breakup of a three-year relationship, I accepted a date with a very handsome man, a Marine, impeccably dressed. As we sat across from each other, me rambling on about whatever because I was nervous (it had been a while since I had dated!), he said flat-out, “This is awkward.” (Insert needle into my balloon.) But I survived, and since then, I have been on a number of nonawkward dates as my confidence in this area increases. Still, after a first date, the PHONE is called upon. And for quite some time, I avoided it like the plaque. So I texted. And texted. And it has taken a number of failed potential relationships for me to see that texting does not a relationship make. So I make sure now that we bring the phone into the picture early on, despite the awkwardness, despite the fears. Because, let’s face it, it’s normal for early dating to be full of butterflies, nerves, etc. It’s just a given.

Sometimes I think in this world in which we can hide behind technology and take time to craft the perfect response, we forget that we are not machines, that true conversation is organic and imperfect at times, that this is okay, that this can lead to richer, unexpected, and even more beautiful conversation. We must be kind to ourselves and kind to others in spoken communication because, honestly, I think a lot of us are struggling with it in this day and age.

In my case, the period of needed rest after each phone call is getting shorter in time; I am learning habits to make the process easier (e.g., discovering the best times to schedule phone calls, lighting an aromatherapy candle, preparing a list of topics to discuss—yes, even for dating phone calls); and I just accepted a contract position that will require video calls: VIDEO PHONE CALLS. Still, I walk through, step by step, and I’m hopeful that one day I will pick up the phone with confidence, a calm heart, and—dare I say it—joy!

Do you struggle with phone anxiety? Feel free to share tips that have helped you in the Comments section.


3 thoughts on “Phone Anxiety, or Remembering We Are Not Machines…

  1. Pingback: Phone Anxiety, or Remembering We Are Not Machines… | smalltownfreelancer

  2. I’m coming over here from the link I saw on Facebook to say: YES! I struggle with phone anxiety. I haven’t figured out what works yet (so far, trying to ignore the anxiety, and avoiding the phone altogether haven’t worked), but today, I’m trying deep breathing, visualization and promising myself a treat when it’s over (my inner child responds well to this strategy…as does my inner adult).

    With the way we tend to react to people who make mistakes or disagree with us, online, and the arm’s distance that electronic communication provides, I think it’s so helpful to remember we aren’t machines. I’m trying to keep that in mind too -it’s ok to make mistakes, and the person on the other end of the line might be just as anxious as I am!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks so much for reading, Kristin! I like the treat strategy, too! For me, it’s usually Starbucks drinks. 🙂 Though you’d think caffeine would be something I should steer away from…oh well, one thing at a time! I hope your call went well.

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