I suffered terribly from phone anxiety when I was younger.
- my dad had to phone pretending to be me to arrange an interview for my Saturday job
- I wrote convoluted "what-if?" scripts before making a call, feeling that I needed to be prepared for every eventuality
- I would repeatedly dial a number until the last digit, then hang up in a panic.
It was crippling, especially early in my career. I struggled to make progress on simple things if they required a phone call, I would procrastinate, avoid it altogether or send countless memos.
I never told anyone – I thought it was silly and I must be the only one.
It took time, but I'm more comfortable making calls
I noticed that in all the calls I made, none of the bad things I worried about happened. They were fine. Often great.
When needing to make a call, I find these techniques help me:
- writing an outline and introduction. It's impossible to predict every branch of a conversation, but knowing my purpose for calling helps me focus, and the intro gets me over the initial hurdle
- being myself and not worrying about what someone else thinks of me. This has been a wider learning point for me, but over time has helped me relax and be natural on the phone
- asking someone to call me. I discovered that calls were much easier if someone was phoning me, rather than me having to make the call
If you struggle with phone anxiety, know that you're not alone, and it's not silly.
Check out this video, which sums it up perfectly for me: