Phone anxiety is an increasingly common phenomenon, especially as millennials flood the workforce. Millennials, who grew up texting and emailing, are becoming a larger part of everyday business. The irony is that even as more and more people are growing up attached to their phones, people in general are becoming more anxious about actually using phones to make calls. Some people feel it’s invasive and interrupts the workday, while others fear having to come up with an immediate response on the phone. Here are a few ways to acclimate yourself with the good old fashioned way of doing business: the phone call.
Write Down Your Intentions
Prepare for the phone call ahead of time. It’ll help you stay on track and alleviate some feelings of anxiety. It’s helpful to write down the purpose of your call, key discussion topics, and your end goal. If you’re especially anxious, you might even want to write out a brief script for yourself. That way, if you start getting flustered during the call, you can simply look at your prep document and get back on subject quickly.
Turn It Into a Role-Playing Game
Participate in some phone call role-playing with a team member or someone else who’s comfortable using the phone. He or she should be able to walk you through the call and point out areas that could use some improvement. Remember to play the part and stay in character. Ask your role play partner to tell you points where you sounded unnatural or unclear. Then, go back to your “script” and rework it. The goal is to get your point across without sounding forced or awkward.
Or Rehearse in the Mirror
If you don’t feel comfortable role-playing with a co-worker, try practicing your phone call aloud and privately in front of a mirror. You might even want to record it. Continue to practice in front of the mirror until you feel comfortable talking. You’ll be able to tell because your voice will sound more natural and you’ll be able to look at yourself while speaking. Go over different scenarios; for example, what you’ll say if you get an answering machine or if the person picks up instead of his or her assistant.
Find Answers to All Possible Scenarios
Similarly, you’ll want to have something prepared in case you get an answering machine. Of course, you don’t want to ramble on for three minutes on the machine, but you also want to convey the importance of your call. Make sure you leave all pertinent information, like your phone call and email address. Most importantly, always remember to speak slowly when relaying this info so the listener doesn’t have to repeat the voicemail to hear it.
Problem-Solve Before the Call
Before you make the call, find out what exactly is troubling you about it. Are you afraid you’ll stutter or forget what you’re saying? Or are you worried about getting rejected or saying the wrong thing? Try to narrow down the issue and come up with a solution for it. It’ll help solve the problem directly and help you feel a bit more confident. For example, if you’re afraid of being rejected, come up with a response. If you’re afraid of forgetting what to say, revisit your script.
Open With a Friendly Question
Start your phone call with a question relevant to the person (not just “how are you”). If you remember that he or she was working on a specific project last time you talked, ask how it’s going. Of course, if you don’t know the person, you can simply ask how work is going. Opening the call with a question makes you seem friendlier and more trustworthy. It’s also flattering to the listener because you’re genuinely interested in knowing about him or her. The best part is that it’ll also take some of the anxiety off your end. Because you’ll be focused on listening to the answer, your brain will be distracted from the anxiety and you’ll feel more at ease.
Keep Your Hands Busy
If you have to, finding something to distract yourself physically will help jar your brain out of its anxiety. It’ll help you channel and expend nervous energy, which will make your voice sound more confident and less jittery. Just remember not to annoy your co-workers: pacing around the office is probably not the best activity. Instead, put a few items on your desk that you can fiddle with during the phone call, like a stress ball or some other knick knack that will keep your mind off the phone call.
Most importantly, make sure you don’t miss the return phone call. Visit us at Booth to learn about having your calls forwarded right to your personal cell phone.