More than ever, it seems like people are anxious about talking to people over the phone. When I was the director of an independent living program, I saw numerous residents become overwhelmed by anxiety when prompted to call someone. My clients in private practice also often report that same feeling of dread, preferring to email or text.
I can understand why phone anxiety is more prevalent. Technology has created a world where talking on the phone is often avoidable, so people don’t have much experience with it. The lack of exposure to talking on the phone makes it feel foreign and uncomfortable. Plus, when you can’t give or receive non-verbal feedback, it’s harder to determine how the conversation is going. Are they smiling when you’re talking? They can’t see you nodding your head in agreement, so do they think you’re not listening to them?
Most of my emerging adult (18-29 year old) clients would happily live in a world where talking on the phone didn’t exist. Unfortunately, that’s not a reality yet. So I give them three simple tips to help them conquer their phone anxiety.
1. Prepare General Talking Points
Think about the general points you want to make in your conversation. Is it particular questions that need answering? Is the bottom line that you need to tell them you need to reschedule an appointment? Write it down and practice those basic points.
I’ve seen people suggest writing a script, but I’ve found that to be counterproductive. The person you’re talking to is not going to follow the script, so when they inevitably say or ask you something you haven’t prepared for, you’re going to feel ever more thrown off because all you can think of are the statements in your script.
2. Practice Your Talking Points
Don’t memorize your talking points word for word. That’s counterproductive because, if you forget some of it, you’re going to get flustered. You have your basic bullet points you want to convey; practice saying them several different ways that feel natural to you and then make the call.
3. Remember Who You’re Talking To
Most of the time, you’re talking to people you’ll never have to talk to again. If you’re never going to talk to this person again, who cares if it’s a little awkward or what they think of you? And if you’re talking to someone you know, then they’ll probably give you a pass if you’re a little nervous or stammer a little.
Have anxiety that goes beyond just talking on the phone? Contact Dr. Crystal I. Lee for a free 20 minute consultation to see how she can help.