In today’s world many would argue that we are more connected than ever. We are always on our phones – whether we’re texting our partner, Facebooking a friend or emailing a colleague. But how often are you using it to make phone calls?
For those of us who have grown up with the Internet, text messaging and instant chat programs at our disposal, using the phone to talk is almost a foreign concept. And this can make us wary of using it, anxious even.
Interestingly, despite this culture shift, having anxiety about phoning people transcends generations. This is because being on the phone requires you to be ‘in the moment’ and responsive. You cannot take an hour or so to think about and craft the perfect response.
So what can you do if the idea of calling someone makes you nervous?
Think about the benefits
Miscommunication is a well-known hazard of text-based conversations. This is because it is difficult to express the right tone using just written text. When you talk to someone, you are giving them vocal cues. The way you speak and the inflections you use help them understand what you’re saying more clearly. It is also far more likely that you’ll build trust – which is essential to any kind of relationship.
Outline some ‘if then’ scenarios
Our willpower typically fails when we have to make a decision between two options. For example if you have the choice of emailing someone or giving them a call, you’re likely to go for the ‘safer’ option of emailing. To get around this, come up with some ‘if then’ scenarios. This means if a certain situation arises, you then have to call instead of email. An example of an ‘if then’ scenario could be ‘If I need to break some bad news, then I’ll call’. This takes out the decision making factor.
Start with a question
Asking the person you’re on the phone to a question will indicate to them that you care about them. As well as boosting your likeability over the phone, asking a question directs the conversation towards the other person, easing the pressure on yourself.
Writing out a script or a list of conversation topics can be helpful when you’re making an important call. Having said that, over-planning for less important phone calls can be detrimental. It may build up the experience in your head, making you think – this is a scary thing to be doing. Instead, when you need to make a casual call, just bite the bullet and do it.
Consider the big picture
If things go wrong during a phone call, try to take a step back and think about the big picture. Instead of writing it off as a disaster, think about what you’ve learnt and what you can do to improve on it next time. The more you make phone calls, the more comfortable you’ll become.