Why You Hate Talking on the Phone and How to Cope

bipoc woman on the phone

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Does a ringing phone often feel like a horribly rude intrusion? Do you avoid calls from unknown numbers and reluctantly answer the occasional call from someone you know? Do you hate talking on the phone, whether it’s a quick call to book a dinner reservation, an essential call for a job interview, or a catch-up chat with a loved one?

If so, you’re not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of cell phone owners in the United States feel irritated when a call or text interrupts them. Pew Research also shows that teenagers perceive calls as an intimate mode of communication, primarily reserved for people they are close to; they prefer text or social media for other communication.

This article explores some reasons why you may hate talking on the phone as well as some coping strategies that could be helpful.

Why You May Hate Talking on the Phone

Listed below are some reasons why you might hate talking on the phone, according to Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University, New York City.

You Feel Anxious

Most people avoid talking on the phone due to social anxiety. Social anxiety may be exacerbated due to the uncertainty and ambiguity of telephone conversations.

When you cannot see the person on the other end of the phone, you miss out on crucial markers that gauge how your message is being received, such as facial expressions, body language, and eye contact.

You may tend to fill in the blanks with judgmental or critical evaluations projected from others, which can make you feel anxious. One study showed that those who feel anxious talking on the phone feel that texting allows them to be more expressive.

However, feeling anxious when you talk on the phone doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have a mental health condition such as social anxiety disorder. Mental health conditions tend to be weighed in context of how much they limit your ability to function.

If you are able to live your life without any limitation to your functional ability (for instance, if you can place orders online instead of over the phone, or send an email instead of taking a work call, if that causes less anxiety), a mental health condition would not be indicated.

You Feel Impatient

Alternatively, you may avoid talking on the phone because you feel impatient and intolerant of inefficiency. You may feel that time spent on the phone is wasted, especially when the same task can be completed faster through automation.

You Feel Shy

On one hand, some people who would describe themselves as shy in person may be able to express other parts of their personality over the phone because they view it as a buffer that creates a sense of safety, allowing them to be more outgoing or assertive.

On the other hand, people who are shy or introverted may also face social anxiety and struggle with phone conversations.

You Struggle to Communicate Effectively

You may feel overwhelmed while talking on the phone and struggle to communicate what you intended to. Although you may have the skills required to carry out a conversation, you may experience a skill breakdown and become paralyzed when you get on the phone. 

You may find yourself struggling for words or feeling frozen during the conversation. After, you may remember all the things you hoped to say and regret not communicating them effectively.

How to Cope If You Hate Talking on the Phone

These are some steps that can help you cope, if you hate talking on the phone:

  • Check whether the other person is available: If you need to call someone, it can be helpful to ask them if they’re available at a certain time and whether they’re open to a phone conversation. This can help curtail some of your anxiety around when to call them and whether or not they want to speak to you.
  • Prepare a script: “Before an important call, it can be helpful to create a script for yourself. You can practice it before the call, when you’re thinking clearly and rationally,” says Dr. Romanoff. She says once you’re on the call, you can choose whether to use the script or not, but knowing you have a backup plan to rely on in case you start to feel overwhelmed can be reassuring.
  • Practice with a friend: If you have a difficult phone call to make, Dr. Romanoff suggests practicing it with a friend or someone you feel safe with. “This can help you consider potential reactions they may have and how you might respond to them.”
  • Decide your goals: Dr. Romanoff also recommends listing out your goals for the conversation before making the phone call. “This way if the conversation becomes emotional or takes a negative turn, you can reorient to your objectives and course correct.”
  • Take calls more frequently: If you avoid most calls and only take the occasional important call when you have no choice, you might find yourself feeling rusty and out of practice. It can be helpful to take calls more frequently, so that you get more accustomed to them. Short calls with low stakes, like making dinner reservations or checking whether your dry cleaning is ready, can be easier and give you a chance to practice being on the phone.
  • Examine your feelings: It can be helpful to examine your feelings around talking on the phone, particularly if it makes you anxious. For instance, you may feel like you’re bothering someone by calling them. One way to do it is to write down your thoughts in a journal. This can help you recognize your concerns and address them.
  • Seek professional help: If talking on the phone gives you severe anxiety or causes panic attacks, it may be helpful to seek treatment from a mental health professional. Therapy can help you explore the causes of your anxiety, correct problematic thought patterns and behaviors, and develop coping skills. Therapy can also gradually expose you to your fear in a safe environment, so you can build your tolerance and confidence.

A Word From Verywell

While we now have several modes of interpersonal communication, such as email, text messaging, and social media, you may still have to take the occasional phone call, which can be difficult if you hate talking on the phone.

It can be helpful to conduct as much of your communication online as possible, and work on developing your coping skills for when you need to make a phone call.

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4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Pew Research Center. Teens, technology, and friendships.

  3. Reid DJ, Reid FJ. Text or talk? Social anxiety, loneliness, and divergent preferences for cell phone useCyberpsychol Behav. 2007;10(3):424-435. doi:10.1089/cpb.2006.9936

  4. Yen JY, Yen CF, Chen CS, Wang PW, Chang YH, Ko CH. Social anxiety in online and real-life interaction and their associated factors. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2012;15(1):7-12. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0015