Speaking on the phone is another specific social anxiety that affects a number of people…
Telephone phobia is a bit counter-intuitive when one considers the context of social phobia.
This is because one would assume that people who are afraid of making face-to-face contact with people would not have any issues or pressures when communicating on the phone.
However, this is not so. People can face social phobia when dealing with a phone conversation.
This is because of a few reasons. Firstly, people with social anxiety worry that they would make some inappropriate response on the phone, in that they may break some rule of how phone conversations should occur.
Telephone mannerisms are sometimes more challenging to learn.
This is because unlike face-to-face conversation which can be learned through imitation, people do not normally have the opportunity to observe both sides of the phone conversation.
What can happen to people with this specific social anxiety?
So the thought process of a person with this social anxiety would be “am I doing something that wrong that the other person will notice?”
Some fear that they would not know what to say resulting in uncomfortable silences and faltering conversation.
This is particularly more heightened as there is no face to face contact and cues to gauge the other person’s communication.
As a phone conversation breaks, it may result the socially anxious person’s voice to change, squeak, or quiver. Furthermore, it may lead to stuttering or other embarrassing behavior that shows incompetence or weakness.
People who experience this specific social anxiety often rely on other family members to respond to the telephone at home.
It seems more “safe” to know the name of the caller and the reason for the call when someone else answers the phone. It allows the people with social phobia the time to prepare for their interaction on the phone.
This means that the voicemail would be a special blessing for people with telephone phobia.
People with phone-related social phobia are able to handle routine calls but it is the calls that require spontaneous, prolonged conversations that they fear.
Evaluative calls from people of authority, like bosses, teachers, lawyers, potential dates are more threatening because one is constantly afraid of being critiqued and evaluated.
It is possible that people with telephone phobia experience only this kind of social phobia and do not have trouble with other kind of social interactions.
In this case this would be a very specific kind of social anxiety.
However, this problem is more multi-layered for someone who experiences generalized social anxiety. In this case, people are often afraid of any kind of social situation which requires communication with strangers.
This way the anxiety over conversing with unknown people on the phone is even more enhanced.