The Dreaded Telephone
A while ago I wrote a post explaining how my biggest fear is talking to people on the telephone. I didn’t really go into how to solve it very much though, and although I’m still very very much not over that fear, I do have some tips which make answering the phone or making phone calls a bit less stressful.
1. Have everything you need in front of you
If you’re making a phone call, make sure you have any details you might need ready to hand, to help you not get flustered if you’re asked something or need to know something on the spot. For example if it was a job interview over the phone, I’d have the number of the person I’m on the phone to, the name of who I’m speaking to, any information about the company that I might be questioned on, a brief description of the role I’m applying for, a copy of my CV etc.
2. Do it straight away
It usually takes me around 10-15 minutes of sitting next to the phone before I manage to pluck up the courage to actually make the call. Although it differs for everyone, I personally find it easier if I, as long as I’m prepared, make the phone call as soon as I can. If I don’t I just dwell on everything which might go wrong and it gives me time to make a million excuses as to why I can’t make the call. It’s best to get it out of the way, and 99% of the time the phone call isn’t half as bad as I imagine it to be beforehand.
3. Don’t overthink it (even though that’s hard)
Similarly to the last point, don’t overthink it. Even if it does take you a few minutes before you actually make the call, don’t spend that time thinking about everything that may go wrong, and every possible situation you may be put on. Just trust that you’ll be able to handle whatever the person on the other end of the phone asks you, because you will.
4. Prepare what to say
This seems a bit contradictory as it is very difficult to prepare without overthinking, but I’ll explain what I mean. By prepare I don’t mean think about about every bad thing that could happen. Just be prepared for if you’re put in a situation you’re really uncomfortable with or you just can’t handle being on the phone anymore. Have a few excuses ready. For example if someone rings you and you don’t feel you can talk on the phone say something along the lines of “I’m really sorry I’m just on the train at the moment could I ring you back when I get home?” or “I have really bad signal could I ring you back in a few minutes?”
If you’re the one who is making the phone call, have an opening sentence ready. When I ring people I always have what I’m going to say first set up or I’d just sit there with the phone to my ear speechless. I find it difficult to think of what to say at times when I’m under pressure, so it’s easier to have a plan. Mention who you are and why you’re calling, and any other information which you feel may be helpful at this stage. Keep it short. Depending on what the phone call is, and whether you are the one in charge of the conversation, you can plan ahead and maybe have certain phrases or replies ready for situations which you feel are likely to come up during the conversation.
5. Be in a calm and quiet place
I cannot think of anything worse than being in the middle of a crowded high street or on a packed bus and having to answer a phone call. Okay, maybe death would be slightly worse but the feeling of dread I get in those situations is higher than in any other. I can make phone calls provided that I have everything I might need, I know who I’ll be talking to, and no one can hear me. When I make phone calls I literally make my mum go and sit in the garden or upstairs so that she can’t hear me. The television has to be turned off and even the cat can’t be in the room. I can’t have anything to distract me or I find speaking on the phone even more difficult than normal. Make sure the setting you’re making the call in is as comfortable for you as it can be.
There are so many little tips which help when making phone calls, but the best way to find out what makes you comfortable is to try ringing people and see how you feel, and what makes you happiest. Maybe try this with ringing someone you’re comfortable with and figure out what would make you feel better about the whole thing. For instance, when I’m on the phone with someone and I’ve never met them, I envisage a face in my mind and put it to the voice. I think it makes me feel less like this is a phone call and more like I’m talking to an actual person and it makes me relax a bit.
I hope some of this helped!