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why do I get petrified when I have to talk to strangers on the phone? How do I cope?

25 Answers
Last Updated: 01/17/2022 at 2:42am
1 Tip to Feel Better
South Africa
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Claudette Pretorius, MA Counselling Psychology

Licensed Professional Counselor

I know how overwhelming it can feel when you're having a tough time. I offer clients a space that is non-judgemental and empathetic whilst navigating these times together.

Top Rated Answers
August 25th, 2015 4:38pm
I deal with this each time I'm on the phone with strangers as well. The telephone company, telemarketers etc etc. I make sure that I remember - they do not know who I am, therefore they cannot judge me. They know nothing about me, and I know nothing about them. Once this call is over, I'll likely never have to speak with them again. I've asked myself why I feel this way and that has helped me. I realized that it's an extension of my social anxiety. I'm generally just really scared of people, I'm scared of being around them and I'm scared of what they think of me. This has extended to when I talk to strangers over the phone, but I just have to remind myself that once this call is over, I'll never have to speak to the stranger again.
March 11th, 2015 12:51pm
1. This usually occurs when you are trying to avoid someone, scared it might be the person or ask the person calling you to check. 2. Another thing that might cause it, if you are a stammer scared of stammering during the conversation.
May 8th, 2015 2:23am
simple social anxiety, though not face-to-face. remember, they cannot see you through the phone! :o)
May 30th, 2016 8:24pm
You feel that way because you worry about what they're gonna think about you. When you talk to someone on the phone you're aware that all they can "judge" you for is your voice and the way you talk. But when you talk to someone in real life you're not that conscious about little stuff because there's more things to think about. Just try to breathe and keep in mind that the person you're talking to isn't more than human and they might be feeling the same thing.
April 17th, 2015 1:28am
It's that you don't actually feel a connection or at ease with them. When talking with friends or family, however, is easier because they know you and may appreciate you. With strangers on the phone, it's just that you are talking to them for the first them and probably questions ponder around your mind wondering how they will reflect you. The best alternative, I suggest, is to take a deep breath and be natural. Be at your optimum performance, or do your best. Just make small talk. Regards, Affable
May 8th, 2015 9:49am
I always have this problem. If I know what I am going to say to the person on the other end of the phone I will write it down first. I will then rehearse it in my head, and keep the paper in front of me during the call. I think taking a few deep breaths and being prepared is the best way of coping with this particular problem.
November 17th, 2015 8:12am
i am sometime paranoid for no reason i think the worst i get filled with anxiety and self though fears may even start to sweat now when i feel this way i take a very deep breath and clear my thought s then i imange that the person i am talking to is a friend i dont consider them a friend because i dont know them but it does help
November 21st, 2017 12:49am
It comes with anxiety. I feel the same too. What I do is take a deep breath then count fast to 3 before answering the call.
March 6th, 2015 7:50pm
Try and think out a few phrases before you begin the conversation, or practice talking into the phone, it's silly yet effective!
July 21st, 2015 12:28am
This sounds to me like Social Anxiety. It sounds awful but one of the best ways to cope is actually to face it. It's scary but start with people whom you're comfortable with and know your situation. Move on from them to people who you actually need to speak with on the phone. It's a difficult process but it's worth it :)
October 26th, 2015 10:31am
My little sister feels the same way, i think you should talk to a professional about it! You never know how much it will help
December 8th, 2015 2:25am
Talking to strangers may be stressful, but I understand why talking to strangers is even worse. You cannot see the reactions and it is harder to understand what they truly mean. Quickly planning what you wish to talk to the person about might help you.
June 21st, 2016 8:17am
Just react as if you're talking to a friend. Most of the times, this happens because you're afraid of being judged by the person on the other side. By reacting as a friend, you let got of that fear and enhance confidence.
September 19th, 2016 3:15am
I used to be like this until it was a part of my job every day. I think I was always nervous because I was scared I wouldn't sound like I knew what I was talking about and people would think I was ridiculous especially when I was growing up and calling businesses. Now I have this dedicated "phone voice" and kind of a different personality with people over the phone... so I guess just doing it a ton kind of beat the insecurity out of me!
September 19th, 2016 4:10am
At an early age we were all advised not to talk to strangers , as we don't have the ability yet to know the difference between good and bad people. as we get older we have to learn to deal with strangers. They could say something that reveals just how wrong we are about a truth we hold dear. Or might force us to look at a situation differently than we’re used to. So you must believe in your self and the ability to run a conversation. All you need to trust yourself. " If you think you aren’t qualified to make a good choice then you’re going to be afraid to make any choice."
February 6th, 2017 8:35pm
i know exactly how you feel dear. just imagine that these people arent strangers at all imagine that they are your best friends, your parents or your loved one. imagine that person youre talking to is sitting front of you and is amazed how beautiful, talkactive and smart you are
April 18th, 2017 12:23pm
Reasons may vary from person to person. For me I'm worried about embarrassing myself so it helps if I go into a room alone and write out what I need to say. Just try to breathe and speak slowely so they can understand you. If they can understand you the conversation will go by faster and you can get off the phone sooner.
January 1st, 2018 11:28pm
You are probably scared to talk to them and say something embarrasing, or scared that they will not like you or what you are saying. You can start coping with this by trying to talk to people on the phone more. Write down exactly what you feel when you get a phone call. Seeing it on a paper may or may not help.
January 30th, 2018 6:49am
From my experience, I have learned that it is helpful, at least for me, to rehearse what I am going to say in my head first, so that I am prepared.
April 24th, 2018 4:16pm
I used to be terrified to talk on the phone as well. i was 20 something before I was even able to order a pizza on the phone! Before making the call I would take deep breaths and realize that there was no harm that could come from the phone call. Nothing they did or said could affect me negatively if I did not allow it
January 29th, 2019 4:58pm
Talking to someone new can be very scary because we don't know what will happen. We don't know if we can trust them whether we are calling them or they are calling us - even when we know what company we are calling or what company they say they're calling us from! The best way to feel in control of these situations is to know what you want out of them and what you will and will not agree to that you think is reasonable until you receive information that changes this. When I receive a call from an unknown number, I also know that I will not identify myself before they identify who they are, whom they are trying to reach and why. When I call somewhere, I know ahead of time what I need and I state that up front as concisely as I can. I answer any questions as best as I can. When I feel confident that I'm speaking to the right person for the right reasons, I try to treat the other person as if I already know them to release some of the pressure I have and I find that it makes the other person treat me in kind.
June 29th, 2020 1:45pm
Feeling scared when having to talk to strangers on the phone is not uncommon. Sometimes you may be feeling anxious because the phone call has an important outcome (for example, having an interview for a job). You want to come across well and so you are nervous about saying the wrong thing. Other times, the phone call may not have such a big outcome but you can still feel nervous because you are worried about what the other person might think about you - that they know you are nervous or that they think you are stupid, for example. These feelings of fear or anxiety can be amplified on the phone because it can be harder to tell what a person is thinking when you cannot see them. I find it helpful to take a deep breath before I start a phone call. It might also be helpful to have a pen and paper with you so that you can write down any important information to help you feel more prepared.
October 19th, 2020 4:07pm
I get scared because I'm worried about how I sound when I talk to them and if I can accurately convey the information that I need to. It mainly bothers me when I have to initiate a phone conversation or when someone calls requesting information that I do not have immediately on hand. I cope by practicing beforehand if I am the one calling the person and having the information needed at my disposal. If someone calls requesting information, I practice asking them to call back or for me to call them back at a later time so I am not frazzled and they aren't listening to me shuffle papers around.
December 6th, 2021 6:32am
Usually social anxiety is what causes fear in talking to other strangers on the phone. There are a few different ways that you may be able to cope with social anxiety. I used to have really bad social anxiety so I will share the coping methods that I used. One of the most important ways I coped was being upfront with people about my social anxiety when I felt that I was being awkward. This usually made the person feel more at ease. Also practicing communication helped me. It helped me become more assertive and comfortable talking to people. Of course, at first I felt awkward but each time I felt better and more at ease.
January 17th, 2022 2:42am
Commonly referred to as "phone anxiety," this is a type of social anxiety that causes you to fear talking to others on the phone. I struggle with this too, except I can't talk to anyone on the phone, nonetheless strangers. Believe it or not, phone anxiety is pretty common, and you are not alone in this. The best way to cope is to start slowly and work yourself up to longer phone conversations with unfamiliar people. Regularly call someone you are familiar with until that feels easy. This is how I started. Then, perhaps, start calling people you don't know, putting yourself in situations where the conversation will be short (setting up a hairdresser appointment, for example). Work up to longer conversations with stranger people. Try to find and practice methods that help you calm down in the moment, such as deep breathing or imagining your "happy place," so you can shut down mounting anxiety while on call. This will give you confidence knowing you're not going to panic or freeze up while talking to others. Anxiety is complex, but the best ways to get over it are to face it in manageable bursts. Start slowly and work your way up to scarier encounters, and you got this!