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Lesson 5: Overcoming Phone Anxiety

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Overcoming phone anxiety

Even in a world filled with emails, texting, and instant messages, your job may require you to pick up the phone and talk. However, the thought of calling strangers might cause some anxiety, bringing up questions like:

What if I can’t understand the other person?

What if they get upset?

What do I say when I call?

Thankfully, there are solutions that will alleviate these fears and build your confidence.

Watch the video below to learn some tips for overcoming phone anxiety.

Getting started

It’s normal to feel nervous if you have to call someone for work, especially if you’re calling to share unpleasant news. One key thing to remember before and during your call is to breathe. Taking deep breaths clears your mind, gives you time to think, and helps slow down your speech.

If you’re nervous about speaking over the phone, consider making some practice calls first. Try calling a local store and asking for their operating hours. Simply say “Hi, what are your hours today?” Once they give you an answer, thank them and hang up. That’s it! After you make a few of these calls, your confidence should begin to increase.

Making a business call

While the purpose of your call could be anything, the method of making a business call is fairly simple. For instance, here’s a clear, reliable procedure for starting a call:

  1. Greet the recipient
  2. Ask for the person you need
  3. Introduce yourself
  4. Explain why you're calling, then get to your point.

With this procedure, your opening should sound like this: “Hello, can I speak with Mr. Clark, please? Hi, Mr. Clark, I’m Jake from Adventure Outfitters, and I’m calling in reference to the order you placed yesterday.” As you get more comfortable with making calls, you’ll find the rhythm and language that works best for you.

Your tone of voice is also important because you want to sound natural and sincere, especially if you’re delivering unpleasant news. If you sound irritated or annoyed, the caller may pick up on it, which could make them uncooperative.

Overcoming common fears

Some people are anxious about talking on the phone for a variety of reasons. Here are solutions to some of the more common fears:

  • If you can’t understand someone, ask them “Sorry, could you say that again?” This is a common request with phone calls and is nothing out of the ordinary.
  • If you’re worried about forgetting important things you need to say, write down any key information you may need and refer to it during your call.
  • When putting a caller on hold, say something like “I’m going to put you on hold while I look into your question. Is that OK?” If you let the other person know what’s going on, they’ll be more likely to remain patient while on hold.
  • If a caller keeps going off topic or interrupting you, consider saying something like “Sorry, I have to pause you for one second.” Then say whatever you need to say. Without body language to help you, you’ll occasionally need methods like this to keep the conversation on track.
  • If someone is upset or uncooperative, keep calm and de-escalate the situation. You always want to remain professional and reasonable, no matter what the other person says.

Speaking on the phone can feel intimidating at first, but as you practice, this fear will fade away as your confidence builds.

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