Phone anxiety is very real. What’s worse is that it affects us the most in the workplace, where we’re forced to utilize the phone for sales and other business-related calls. If you tend to avoid answering the phone or making calls, then you’ll want to keep reading. In this article, we’ll provide 5 tips on how to overcome phone anxiety.
What is Phone Anxiety?
Phone anxiety is a common fear that is typically seen in those suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and it can extend as far as an actual phone phobia at work. However, there are those who don’t have SAD, but still deal with this mental health issue each time the phone rings.
There are a number of reasons and past traumas that may contribute to phone call anxiety. When you’re face to face, you can pick up on the other persons’ expressions and body language, while over the phone, there is a greater chance of “coming off the wrong way”.
One in thirteen people experience a form of anxiety. It affects people across all different job types, personalities, and backgrounds. It’s no secret that millennials hate answering their phones, because talking on the phone “takes up too much time.”
Phone calls are interruptive, involves confrontation, and the possibility of being judged—not to mention, the fear of rejection. Anxiety talking on the phone also has to do with the indifference towards speaking on the phone in place of texting or emailing which has become the forefront of how we communicate today.
The Symptoms of Phone Anxiety
Symptoms of phone call anxiety can include:
- Feeling extremely anxious before and after talking on the phone
- Delaying making calls or completely avoiding them due to feelings of nervousness
- Worrying about bothering the other person
- Worrying about what you’ll say or about embarrassing yourself
- Obsessing about everything that was said after the call
- Shaking while on the phone
- Sweaty palms
- Feeling nauseous during the call
- Feeling like your heart is racing
- Trouble concentrating during calls
Experiencing some of the minor symptoms such as feeling anxious before making a call or worrying about bothering the other person is normal. But if you’re experiencing multiple symptoms and you find yourself avoiding calls and unable to answer the phone, it can seriously affect your job.
How to Get Over Phone Anxiety
Phone anxiety is a common problem, and you're not alone. There are tactics that have helped people overcome it. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Think of it as phone exposure therapy.
Here are some things you can try to ease your nerves for your next phone interview or sales call.
1. Focus on the Goal of the Call
Rather than worrying about what can go wrong or what the other person is thinking, focus on the goal of the call.
What are you trying to accomplish with this call?
How will you make this call productive?
What are you trying to gain from the other person? What are they trying to gain from you?
How will you communicate your needs? What about their needs?
Ask yourself these questions before making your next call. Write down the answers so that you can scan through them during the call as a reference point. This will help you focus on the purpose of the call rather than what you’re going to say or how you will be received.
2. Come to Terms with What Can Go Wrong
Let’s get this out of the way first: You will mess up.
Now read that again.
Don’t worry, it’s okay to make mistakes, get tongue-tied, and fall flat on your face. It’s also important to come to terms with your worries, so begin by identifying what you’re most afraid of.
Losing your train of thought?
Sounding like a fool?
Whatever it is, the sooner you can pinpoint it, the sooner you can address it. Once you’ve addressed the things you’re afraid of going wrong, you can shift your focus on how to avoid those things.
3. Be Curious About the Other Person
Whether you’re making a sales call or trying to get a new client on the hook, the goal is to create a relationship with the person on the other end of the line. Therefore, you must get to know them.
The truth is, most people really enjoy talking about themselves. So, rather than focusing on your own paranoia, focus on what you can learn from the other person without the nonverbal cues you’d pick up on during a face to face conversation. Ask them questions about their day, or themselves. Not only will creating a good business relationship help put you at ease, but it’s also good form in terms of best practices for customer relations and sales.
4. Create a Script and Rehearse It
Remember how we mentioned to jot down your answers as a reference point? Well, it’s time to expand on that. Create a script in bullet-point form that includes the key points you want to hit during the phone conversation.
For example, you might want to include:
- A brief introduction
- Your questions for the other person (i.e., tell me about your role, what are your daily obstacles?)
- Your solution to their problem
- Your wrap-up/schedule a meeting
Of course, you want to have a natural flow in the conversation—reading your notes word from word and sounding rehearsed won’t exactly win anybody over. That’s why it’s important to rehearse your script and only use it as a reference point in case you get stuck. You could even try practicing with a coworker, friend, or recording yourself with your phone.
5. Reflect on Past Sales Calls
If the thought of hearing your own voice on a recording makes you grit your teeth and feel even more anxious, you’re not alone. Most people are actually repulsed by the sound of their own voice. However, listening to recordings of your past sales calls will indeed help you.
It’ll take some time, but the more you listen to your past sales calls, the more you’ll adapt and become desensitized. This will allow you to listen objectively, so you can focus on where you went wrong and the things you did right. Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses is key, so it’ll help to write them all down and keep track of your progress.
For each phone call, break everything down into segments, beginning with your introduction. Then give yourself a rating based on these questions:
- How was my tone of voice—was I clear, concise, and friendly?
- Did I successfully introduce myself?
- Did I keep the goal of the call in mind?
- Were there any long pauses?
- How was the customer/client’s reaction?
- Did I provide a convincing solution to their problem?
- How was my wrap-up—was I able to make a sale or schedule a meeting?
- Did I represent my company well?
Remember to write down both the good and the bad, with notes on how you can correct any mistakes. Starting out, it’s a good idea to have a sales manager or an experienced coworker help you with this since they’ll have an easier time being objective and can give you solid advice.
Telzio provides an easy-to-use call recording feature for sales and training purposes. Learn more about how to record calls with Telzio.
Christine is a linguist and traveler who studies and writes about the relationship between humans and technology.