Tips for dealing with phone anxiety and having successful phone interactions
I have seen so many jokes about Millenials and Gen Z having phone anxiety.
I am not a fan of talking on the phone. If someone calls me on the phone, I will typically stare at it until the phone stops. Why is this? Why am I like this?
I get so stressed about answering the phone especially if I am not expecting the call. My difficulty with phone calls is that I feel trapped on the phone. I struggle with getting off of the phone if someone talks too long. I never want to be rude but sometimes it is hard to find that pause to jump in and end the call especially if it is an older person or some sort of leadership.
I will never pretend to know it all but I will always be happy to share my experiences. Before writing this article, I needed to revisit my reasons for being anxious with phone calls. Please let me know if you can relate. Don't leave me hanging out here all vulnerable and alone!! I would love to know your thoughts.
Reasons I prefer text/email over a phone call:
Anxiety - When I'm on the phone, I stutter horribly. I don't know why. Once I start stuttering, I become very aware and stressed about everything that I say. I feel judged and embarrassed. If it was a text or email, I could review it before pressing send. I feel like I ramble, regardless of how short a conversation has been. In complete transparency, I also worry that whatever the caller will ask of me is something that I will not know or understand.
Productivity - Some phone calls cause the same frustrating feeling as those annoying office meetings that could be summed up via email. Consider the feeling when you are working on something and you are being SUPER productive and focused. Then, imagine you have to leave all of that work and run to a meeting. For shits and giggles, let's say that the meeting is providing 1 or 2 important updates but then the manager brings out a cake to celebrate someone's birthday. You have to stay for one hour while people eat cake. How frustrating is that? That is something that happens to me once a month (before quarantine). That is one reason why I do NOT answer my phone. It can quickly go from a short productive update to an hour-long discussion about the commute times in Atlanta and the best spots to vacation.
Consideration - As a mother, I dare not call another mother without texting first. I remember the sigh of relief when my baby girl would finally go down for a nap. I ALSO remember the absolute PANIC and RAGE when someone would call my phone. I definitely could have turned my ringer down but that's one of 50 things on a daily to-do list. Also, once I turn my ringer down, I'll never find my phone. It may not be fair but the person who calls and wakes up my sleeping baby automatically gets on my shit list. I always keep sleeping babies in mind as well as those who may work alternate schedules. You never know what people are dealing with at home.
Tips for a successful phone interaction
Establish boundaries, as needed. If you prefer to speak at a certain time or when you can have privacy and fewer interruptions, set those boundaries. Even if you are on the call and you need additional time to respond or consider the conversation, let the caller know that. If you get overwhelmed or your senses are overloaded, breathe and ask to return the call at another time.
Prepare for your phone call by jotting down some notes about what you want to discuss and keywords to remember through the call. I recommend writing down any questions that you have for the call. For this reason, I keep a simple notebook available for calls. I am creating a short notebook that will be filled with templates for different calls. I am hoping this will be helpful for some.
I will review my notes and practice what I may say before I call. I'll have a glass of water nearby and take deep breaths. Be sure that you speak calmly and slow so that you are heard.
it is always great to do a short greeting (introduce yourself and ask how their day is going or something similar) and a quick summary of why you are calling. I always ask if this is a good time to chat about this topic for the amount of time you may need.
If your phone call is for a business, you can simply introduce yourself and ask who can assist you with your question or request. Many businesses will have a receptionist that may need to transfer you so pouring your story into the person who answers the phone may waste your time.
If your phone call is to troubleshoot a device, please ensure that you have a notebook. I always recommend having the serial number, model number, and a log of the issues you are having. Having a log is helpful for your technician. Example: If your washer cuts off every Tuesday at 7 pm, make a note of that. These sorts of patterns can help in the troubleshooting process.
I have learned NOT to interrupt someone while they are speaking and to respectfully refuse to be cut off when I am speaking. I know that this can be considered a rude gesture but also the person is saying things they think are important and when you cut them off, they may feel as if they are being dismissed. This, in turn, can lead to the person NOT listening to you but instead reflecting on how you cut them off.
I recommend summarizing the call before you hang up and confirm actions/expectations for a possible follow-up call and deadlines.
Always be grateful for the time. You never know what people are doing or what they have done to arrange a time to speak with you.
I would love to know where you stand with phone calls vs text/emails. What are some tips that you have for dealing with phone anxiety?