Despite spending most of our time within arm’s reach of our phones, many people dread actually placing a call. In fact, the fear of making and receiving phone calls is common enough to have a name: telephonophobia.
In person, you pick up a lot of cues by watching someone’s body language, but on the phone, you lose those small gestures (like a smile) that offer encouragement during the conversation. The increasing popularity of texting has also contributed to a phobia of talking on the phone. A recent study shows that U.S. smartphone users spend about 26 minutes each day texting and only about six minutes a day on voice calls.
If you’re like most, your job probably requires some phone interaction, and it’s imperative that you have proper phone etiquette. Here are six tips to overcome your phone phobia and become more personable and engaging in no time.
Preparation is key when it comes to business calls. The more prepared you are, the more confident and ready you will be for the conversation. Even for a simple call, take a minute or two to think about your agenda and what you are trying to get accomplished. It may help to create an outline, or even prepare a short script. That way, if you start to feel nervous, your energy will be focused on the concrete thing that you need rather than wondering how you sound.
While we often think we only smile in response to feelings of calmness and happiness, smiling can actually create these feelings. Research shows that smiling during stressful activities, even if it’s completely fake, decreases your heart rate and stress level. Plus, you’ll sound warmer to the person on the other end of the line.
Speak with Energy
Think back to a time that someone left you a great impression on the phone. It is highly unlikely this person spoke without energy in a soft, quiet tone. Some of the most successful people on the phone have both energy and confidence in their voice. It is no surprise that people who sound upbeat and positive make a better impression on the phone. You don’t have to go over the top with your energy, tone, and speed, but it is important to sound like you are genuinely pleased to be speaking to the other person.
Give a “Two-Second” Pause
Being interrupted while talking can be a complete turn off to a conversation. Allowing the other person to finish speaking their thoughts shows them that you are listening and that you respect their opinions. Since you cannot physically see the person on a phone call, it is a good idea to follow the “two-second” rule. Wait two seconds to make sure the other person has finished their thought. If you start to talk before they have finished, always encourage them to finish sharing before you contribute to the conversation.
Provide Verbal Feedback
Let people know that you are listening to them by providing them feedback. An easy way to do this is by repeating the information back to the person on the other end of the line. For example, you can say something to the effect of, “Just to confirm, you’d like me to follow up by phone next Thursday. Is that correct?” This lets them know you are actively listening to what they have to say and gives you an extra layer of confidence knowing that you are on the same page before hanging up.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice is the most important step to overcoming phone anxiety. The more you do something, the more comfortable you become. The more comfortable you are, the less your brain may hit you with the bodily reactions of anxiousness. Think of it as building an immunity to your phone phobia.