How to Get Over Phone Anxiety
Do you feel unbearably self conscious when you have to actually talk to someone on the phone? Here’s how to get over phone anxiety and make calls with confidence.
When I was growing up in the 90’s, life stopped when the phone rang. My brother and I would race to the phone to get to be the one who answered. We even loved when telemarketers would call because my mom would let us mess with them.
“Hi, can I speak to Mrs… Kula… Kulie… Kila… wowski?”
“What’s it worth to you?”
“If I go get her for you, what are you going to do for me?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I’ll tell you what. If you sing 'I’m a Little Teapot', I’ll go get my mom for you.”
“'I’m a Little Teapot'. Don’t forget the arm motions. I’ll know if you’re trying to cheat.”
“I’m sorry, who am I speaking to?”
“Who are you speaking to? Who am I speaking to? You called me!”
“I’m sorry, can I please speak to Mrs. Kulee…”
“Sir, you don’t have to yell.”
“I’m… I’m not yelling. I’m just trying to get in touch with…”
“Sir, you don’t have to use that kind of language. I’m a child.”
“I… I don’t understand. I’m just trying to…”
“Dad! There’s a bad man on the phone saying he wants to hurt me!”
(Have I mentioned that I was kind of a weird kid?)
Fast forward to present day… I literally never answer my phone. It feels like chore to even check my voicemail. And unless you’re a client or my grandmother, good luck getting a call back from me!
Millennials are the first generation to grow up with email, IM’s, and texting, so making phone calls haven’t been as much a part of our lives as it was for our parents. We’re used to being able to take our time crafting the perfect response and review what we say until we get it just right, so talking on the phone can seem unpredictable and risky.
It’s hard for older generations to understand why Millennials hate the phone so much. But it’s actually a pretty common problem. Most of the time we can get away with handling things through email, text, or online chats. But there are certain situations where we just have to be able to get through a phone conversation.
So if you need some help nailing a phone interview or even just calling to make a doctor’s appointment, I have some great tips for you to get over phone anxiety right here.
1. Create an outline
This is a super dorky move, but whatever, because it works. Having a outline of the things you need to say or ask will help you stay on topic if you blank out. It also takes off the pressure to remember what you need to say so you can focus on the actual conversation. I have literally done this when I’ve had to record my outgoing voicemail messages. Trust me, it helps.
2. do a practice run
Yes, this is dorky too. You know what? All of these tips are going to be dorky. But I’m a fan of what works, so let’s do this thing. Try practicing saying what you need to say on the call out loud. Even better, see if a friend will play along and let you practice with them over the phone. Going over it a few times will take down your phone anxiety a notch.
3. Dress for confidence
Uh huh. More dorky advice. But clothes really do influence how we feel. If you’re interviewing for a job or scholarship, try wearing clothes that make you feel confident. Every little bit helps, no?
This is another trick that I’ve actually done. I had to do a phone interview for my first job out of college. And I was crazy nervous. Even though they couldn’t see me, I put on my little interview suit for the call. Nailed it!
Need more help beating stress and anxiety? Check it!
4. Beat phone anxiety by taking notes
This is a great trick, especially if your brain goes blank when you get nervous. (Guilty!) Take notes as the other person is talking to make sure you’re following the conversation. It’s also nice to be able to go over your notes later in the call if you need to or to remember important details after you hang up.
5. Try a headset or video call
For some people, just holding a phone up to your ear is enough to set off phone anxiety. If that’s you, try wearing a headset instead. It might make it feel more like a regular conversation. (And it keeps your hand free to take those notes!)
For others, not being able to see the other person can be anxiety-provoking because it’s hard to read their reactions. If it’s possible to do a video call instead, that may help.
6. Use an open posture or power stance
If there is anything good about talking on the phone rather than in person, it’s this. You can actually stand or walk around while you’re talking to give yourself a confidence boost. Yes, this is a real thing. Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power posing and get ready to have your mind blown.
7. Beat phone anxiety with practice
Talking on the phone is like all things in life. It gets easier with practice. Just keep on trying until you’re able to do it with confidence. Hey, if you learned how to conjugate irregular verbs in French, you can master this, non?
Start with something low risk like calling a store to ask for their hours and work your way up to talking to a family member or friend. Starting with those easier calls will help build your confidence.
It can be hard confront phone anxiety, especially when phone calls aren’t something we have to deal with often. But it’s worth making an effort because there are certain situations where phone calls are necessary, especially once you start working. Don’t let fear of the phone hold you back. Give yourself some space to practice and you’ll get over your phone anxiety in no time.