Dealing with phone anxiety

How social anxiety affects my job as a journalist

Graphic by: Charlie Zitta | Production Assistant

For my entire life, I have dealt with high anxiety. It has kept me from talking with people, it has made me turn down many opportunities growing up; to this day I have trouble just calling or talking to someone I don’t know. 

That makes my job in journalism that much harder, as it may take me several hours to work up the courage to call someone for a pleasant 15-minute conversation. I fear that I will be the socially awkward person that I am whenever I talk to someone new. 

So why do I do a job that forces me out of the comfort zone that I constantly try to stay in? Well for one, I really love my job, despite the constant butterflies in my stomach. Two, I’ve learned about a few ways to deal with the anxieties that surround me. 

Phone call anxiety has been the toughest issue for me for the past couple of years. I hate to admit it, but my senior year of high school saw me have to call the bus garage to help set up an event for one of my classes. I couldn’t do it, actually panicking so badly that I started crying right there in front of my classmates, at 18 years old. Nice. 

The embarrassment of that day drove me to swallow any sort of pride I had. When I decided to become a reporter, I knew that I would have to face this fear head-on. Now, my job requires that I talk to people over the phone more than ever.  

So, my advice on phone call anxiety is this: to make a call you only have to be brave for about 10 seconds. Once you have the number typed and ready to call, take about ten seconds to build yourself up. Say that you can do this, that you are good enough to call this person. Once those ten seconds are up, push the call button. Once you do this, you are committed since the phone is most likely ringing on the other end of the line. 

The second way to mitigate your anxiety is by acting. Should you hide your personality? No. But if you can momentarily role play as someone who has enough confidence to speak to a crowd, even if it’s only for a few minutes, then you can make yourself seem to be the one in control. 

My anxiety and stress really kept me from becoming a good communicator. Many of the fears I had back then I still have today such as: 

“What will they think of me?” 

“Am I taking them away from something?”  

“Will they be angry that I didn’t call sooner?”  

By momentarily suppressing these thoughts, even if it’s just long enough to initiate conversation, you can learn that most of the time these anxieties are just figments of your imagination. 

While anxiety is extremely hard to deal with, doing different things to try to mitigate these issues can make minimize anxiety from being the sole focus of one’s life.