If you’re anything like me you may find simple things such as making phone calls really difficult because of anxiety.
For my job its essential that I am confident making calls. I often find myself making between 10-20 calls a day as a journalist.
Last September I was unable to make calls at all. At the time I flat-out refused to do it.
I remember telling my tutor a few weeks ago that I called up a company to follow-up on a job interview and I remember he saying to me “look at you making phone calls.”
She understood it’s a big thing for me to be able to do that voluntarily.
I am not going to lie and say that I have solved the problem and that now I find them easy because I don’t.
When I haven’t made a call in a while I do go back into panic mode. In fact, this happened on my first day in my new job.
However, I believe that I have found ways to make it easier for myself and maybe they might help you out.
If you have anxiety then I doubt you’re going to feel comfortable ringing people in front of others anyway.
I can imagine that if it’s possible you’d rather ring someone when you’re in another room so that no one else can hear you.
When I was training in journalism I’d often go out of the newsroom and into the café or corridor.
I’d only go into the café if it was busy because then everyone would be concentrating on their own thing and not paying attention to what I was saying.
However, sometimes that made it difficult to hear the conversation but it was better than being in front of people I had to interact with regularly.
When I took phone calls in the corridor it would often be outside the library where very few people came past but I’d also have a desk so I could write down key bits of information.
The point is, find a location you’re comfortable with and if you’re having to call from work, forget protocol, go outside and do it.
No one will notice if you’re getting your work done.
USE YOUR MOBILE
For me it’s all about being comfortable and familiar.
I know my mobile, I know how it works, I know how many seconds it’s going to take before the phone starts ringing.
Using someone else’s phone is off-putting. It’s a scary thought.
What if someone wants to call me back and asks for my number? Do I give them this one? But I don’t know it.
These are some of the things that go through my head.
So many times I’ve done work experience with newspapers and they’ve told me to use their phone.
I haven’t and that’s fine.
If you struggle to make calls, like with the location it’s important to feel comfortable with the device you’re using.
The simpler that is the more time you have to focus on the call and the less to worry about in your mind.
Just something to think about next time you’re faced with that situation.
WRITE IT OUT
So this was a tip I got from my tutor and it’s worked wonders for me.
I always panic when the phone is ringing, trying to go over in my head what I want to say, hoping I get the right name and don’t screw up my sentences.
It’s really simple really and I don’t know why I didn’t think about it before but the trick is to write it down.
Word for word when they pick up write down your introduction. Something along the lines of:
“Hi it’s Emily calling from The Times I am looking to speak to X about Y.”
It really is that simple. That way you’re getting to the point. You don’t have to think hard about it because it’s right in front of you.
HOWEVER, and this is a big thing. Do not write out any more than your introduction.
After that the conversation is no longer predictable and you may get yourself muddled if it goes off in a direction you haven’t planned for, which is likely.
Instead write down bullet points. Obviously the nature of the conversation will depend on what you want to cover.
Make sure if you have any questions you write them down so you can refer to them, or any talking points you want to discuss.
If it’s talking to someone you care about make sure you write down what you wanted to say to them so you don’t forget and to ensure you’re able to get it across.
If you’re enquiring about something make sure you don’t forget any additional questions you might have.
If it’s an interview make sure you get all your questions answered.
By bullet pointing it allows you to go off topic and feel more comfortable about it.
You have your information ready to go back to when the time is right but there’s no rush because it’s there in front of you.
For me, this is the key thing.
Oh, so generic you say? I know, I know but it’s important.
Only by taking more calls and ringing more people will you feel confident.
You may have days where making calls is easy and days where it’s less so. That’s fine.
But you’ll often find if you can do one or two, then you can do many more in quick succession.
The regularity of calls can be important, big gaps can make you lose your confidence, just like I did when I started work.
That’s natural and it’s fine. It’s just something to be aware of.
I can’t stress how important it is to be prepared.
The more you know about a topic the more confident you feel talking about it.
If your phone call is to learn about something or to enquire then make sure you know what you want to find out.
The important thing is knowing what you want to say to someone and how you want to get it across.
You don’t need to be an expert but having an understanding will make you more confident.
Of course you may be doing all of these things and it may not work for you but remember just making phone calls with anxiety is a big thing.
I feel so proud when I am able to do it without thinking nowadays because that’s how far I’ve come.
We all have things we struggle with and this is something that we can manage.