Telephonobia

I didn’t make up this word. Well… I did, but when I looked it up, I found it here.

A fear of telephones rates quite high in the long list of phobias shared by people who have social anxiety.

Actually, the term is probably a bit out of date. Telephones have moved on from these:

Telephonobia: a fear of telephones. What does that mean, today?

You can do so many things with a phone, these days, and telephonobia refers to just one of them: talking on the phone.

How does telephonobia begin?

It could begin because other people listen in and criticise, either during the conversation or after it.

It could begin with past traumas, like tricks that use the phone’s visual anonymity – people who pretend to be others. The traumas themselves could be long forgotten, yet their effects can last a lifetime.

What’s the problem?

Sufferers of telephonobia worry they’ll sound weird over the phone. They’re afraid of stumbling over words or being unable to express themselves. They’re afraid of what the person at the other end or those listening in will think of their poor performance.

And that’s why telephonobia is often a part of social anxiety: it’s another fear of judgement. Some sufferers of SA avoid talking on the phone altogether. Some never answer when it rings.

What about me?

I remember tricks played on me as a child, but it didn’t put me off using the phone. As an adult, though, I have worried about the way I come across. And now that there are other ways of communicating, I use the phone a lot less for talking, probably less than I should. Lack of experience creates more fear.

What about you?

Do let me know, in the comments below, how you feel about talking on the phone.

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9 thoughts on “Telephonobia

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  1. I couldn’t do my job without making phone calls but if I stop and think about it I really don’t like hearing my voice on any device. And I don’t like people interrupting when I’m on the phone – I used to have a boss did it all the time!

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  2. I’ve always hated using the phone, and in general I’ll go to considerable lengths to avoid it, unless I’m talking to people I know very well. Emails and texts are much easier for me – possibly because you have time to think about your replies.

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  3. Yes in fact it was my brief job at a call centre that put me over the edge. Not knowing what to say to strangers or what to ask for specifically if you have to call a service hotline that gets me extremely anxious that I can’t even do that face to face with people let alone direct one on one communication with a stranger over the phone.

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  4. For me it developed over time. It seems all bad news has come to me over the phone. From bill collectors to the deaths of my parents and so much in between. I deal with people in person fine but talking on the phone is like an emotional trigger, and the panicky feelings get worse with every moment I remain on the line. It’s horrible and nothing I ever expected. as a teen I was like any other girl racing past my sisters to answer phone first, but over time with each phone delivered trauma, it became harder then sometimes impossible to overcome.

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    1. I can well believe that such traumatic news delivered over the phone would cause you to be afraid of talking on the phone or even answering it. There must be help for you out there. I suppose it depends how much it affects you and how much you want to work at “overcoming” it. (I don’t think “overcoming” is the right word really. It’s not a fight and you don’t defeat it. Instead, you act despite it and it becomes less important.)

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