Some people have a deep-seated fear of making telephone calls. The thought alone is enough to fill them with anxiety and dread. Of course, communicating by email or via social networks is much easier, but telephone conversations are a necessity in most jobs. We have put together 7 strategies that will help you overcome your phone phobia:
1. Plan the phone conversation beforehand
If you know exactly what information you want from the person you are calling or what he wants from you, you should plan what you are going to say. Draw up a list of bullet points for guidance. Write down the name of the person you are calling, summarize what you are going to say in keywords or write down full sentences if you like. This will help you to structure the conversation. Make a note of what you have already discussed and what further information you still need to tell the other person.
2. Practice makes perfect
It may sound strange, but you should practice telephoning. The more often you practice, the more confident you will become. It even helps if you pick up the phone more often in your private life, rather than simply writing a WhatsApp message. Listen in while others in the office are on the telephone and learn from them. If that doesn’t help, you could consider taking one of the tailored training courses for developing professional telephone skills that are available.
3. The 55-38-7 rule
Have you heard of the 55-38-7 rule? It was developed by Professor Albert Mehrabian at the University of California. It states that 7% of communication is content, 38% is conveyed by tone of voice and 55% by body language. You can change your voice with a few simple tricks such as the speed at which you talk, by speaking clearly, regulating the volume at which you speak and your body posture. Your facial expression also influences your voice even if it is not seen - when you smile while you are talking, you come across as politer.
4. The reason for your fear
What is the reason for your phone phobia? No doubt, there was a key situation in the past that has had a negative influence. Write down your fears and concerns and work through them. When you face your fears, you can learn how to deal with them. Try and imagine how you would react in a given situation and make a list describing all the possible scenarios.
5. Be open about your fears
Your colleagues can’t understand why you never want to pick up the phone? Be open about your fears and tell your co-workers. Someone is bound to have a handy tip that will help you. Your co-workers will appreciate your honesty and will understand why you are sometimes more reticent.
6. Call them by name
When you call someone on the telephone, make sure you use their name. This makes them feel valued right from the beginning. Make sure you make a note of their name if it is the first time you are calling. If you didn’t quite catch the name, don’t hesitate to ask again. You can then use their name during the telephone call to build a personal rapport.
7. Opening the conversation
Starting a telephone conversation is perhaps the trickiest part. Formulate a standard sentence that you can use for all your telephone calls. It will help to make the process more routine. You can write the sentence down and display it prominently on your desk to remind you.