When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he gave the world the ability to connect and verbally communicate no matter how far they were from each other…
Although today it is possible to communicate via the warm comfort of text message or email, when it comes to work, the telephone is still a vital tool for touching base and getting things done, but for some, talking on the phone is a genuine problem - this is commonly known as phone anxiety!
Phone anxiety stunts one’s ability to communicate confidently over the phone and can be a real problem as it can cause serious setbacks when it comes to career progression - but there are ways to overcome it.
If the mere thought of answering the phone makes your palms sweat, here are a four definitive tips for getting rid of your phobia once and for all…
1. Throw Yourself In Head First! You may think this is easier said than done, but when I landed myself a job at a call centre many years ago, I was terrified of the phone! Without much verbal training, I was told to answer a monitored training call (this was a supervisor posing as a customer) and do what I thought was best!
Once the call was answered, there was no turning back and although a bumbled my way through the conversation, I managed to just about manage. This opened up the possibility that I may be able to use the phone in a professional environment after all. A good start!
A good alternative to a training call is to get a friend or family member to call your work phone at an unspecified time during the day - once you begin to answer the phone without hesitation, you’re good to go!
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! This may sound obvious but it really is essential! Once you’ve become slightly more at ease, you can progress by using the phone as much as you possibly can in any casual scenario that crops up...
For example, if you and your friends are ordering a takeaway, volunteer to make the phone call - ordering food is straightforward and the person at the other end of the phone takes hundreds of orders every day, so there’s no pressure! By doing this, you’ll become accustomed to exchanging words over the phone, eventually making the act more natural.
3. Have you Lines Handy. Once you’ve broken down the initial barriers of phone anxiety, it’s time to utilize your newfound confidence in the workplace. Firstly, ensure your phone is on (take off the busy button!) and prepare to converse…
Making or receiving calls in a professional environment often seems more high pressured than talking to your friends or the pizza man, but essentially, there’s not much difference. You’ll realise this eventually, however, in the meantime, to help you get into the swing of things, it always pays to have a cue card of handy greetings and lines handy. Although you may sound a little plastic at first, these little prompts will help you to talk on the phone more fluently and after a short while, you’ll sound relaxed, confident and even a little bit animated!
4. Smile and breathe. Although this sounds ridiculous, pausing for breath in between sentences helps with voice projection and clarity, while smiling on the phone is proven to make a person sound friendly and confident.
By doing this, you will encourage a positive reaction from the person at the other end which in turn will boost your confidence and ultimately, make using the telephone easier and easier - and if you’ve followed steps 1 - 3, smiling and breathing are sure to be a doddle!
Whether you like it or not, when it comes to phone inquiries, interviews, communicating with colleagues or liaising with clients, being able to use the phone in a clear and confident manner is a must.
Although it may seem daunting, getting over phone anxiety is incredibly important in order to thrive in the workplace. So, next time you hear the dreaded chime of the phone, don’t hesitate - you’ll thank yourself in the long run!
Best of luck!