Not everyone feels at ease about picking up the phone.
If you feel more vulnerable than you feel like a boss when the phone rings at your desk, you may suffer from phone anxiety.
Congratulations! Not only have you admitted an area you can improve, you've decided to do something about it. You are the ideal employee.
Phone anxiety is a totally common problem, for executives and entry-level employees alike, and you’re completely capable of fixing it. Here's how.
1. Focus on the Goal of the Call
Focus on the goal of the call instead of worrying about all the things that might go wrong. Answer the questions:
- What will make this a productive call?
- What do I need from the other person, and how will I best communicate it?
- What do they need from me, and how might they try to communicate it?
It may help to create an outline, or prepare a brief script. If you start to feel nervous, refocus your energy on the goal of the call instead of thinking about how you sound.
2. Identify Your Worst Fear
Coming to terms with your worst fear starts with identifying it.
Common worries may be:
- Losing your train of thought
- Worrying that you won’t sound articulate
- Fear that the person on the other line will misunderstand or reject your request
The sooner you can pinpoint exactly what it is that’s causing your anxiety, the sooner you can work to address it.
Again, if you’re afraid you’ll forget what to say, jot your thoughts down prior to the call. Set the stage to make your call as comfortable as possible.
3. Fake It 'Til You Make It
You may not feel confident on the phone, but no one else needs to know that. The good news is that it’s much easier to fake confidence on the phone than it is face-to-face. The person on the other end can’t see that you feel or look overwhelmed.
Use that to your advantage:
- Speaking clearly
- Use a friendly tone, to sound more approachable.
- Be a problem-solver
The thing is, the person on the other line might not want to be on the phone, either. They're probably focused on the goal of the call (see nr. 1).
If someone asks you a question you don’t have an answer for, let them know that you can find out for them, or put them in touch with someone who can better assist them. This is a perfectly appropriate response.
The person on the other end is not going to think less of you or even be disappointed; they simply need someone to help them, and that someone isn’t always going to be you.
4. Seek Support
If you still find it difficult to make it through a phone call solo, try having a colleague join you. That way, if you get tongue tied or tripped up, they can help take the lead to prevent dead air or confusion on the receiving end.
Even if you’re expected to take the call by yourself, just having that person there as a silent support system can also be really helpful when the nerves kick in.
Seek support from your colleagues. Try calling your coworkers instead of sending a Slack or instant message throughout the day to practice your skills. The exercise might be a fun way to get better at the gab, and may even help you develop stronger relationships at work.
5. Nobody's Perfect
Unless you’re a seasoned receptionist or sales person making cold calls all day, no one expects you to be perfect. Frankly, they’re probably not focusing much on you at all, but thinking about what they need.
Keep these things in mind:
- You’re not expected to know the answer to every question immediately
- It’s perfectly normal to pause and have moments of silence in between conversation while you gather your thoughts
- The person on the other end isn’t concerned about what you sound like; they’re just trying to solve their problems
This should help give you perspective and hopefully alleviate some of the anxieties you’re having about phone calls. Aside from that, go into each call with a set agenda and know who to redirect questions to when you don’t have an answer.
In the end, practice until you don't even think about picking up the phone anymore.
At Hudson Fusion, we do our best to support our coworkers and want to see them succeed. By fostering a productive, supportive work environment, we ensure the success of our clients as well.
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