Have exceptionally good chatting skills? You might have a bright future as a "phone-use consultant."
Believe it or not, that's an actual job title now, thanks to the rise of emailing, g-chatting, and totally phone-phobic Millennials in the workplace. To older generations' chagrin, Gen Y's reluctance to get on the horn has been translating into slumping business, according to the Wall Street Journal. There's just no substitute for talking on the phone when it comes to relationship-building, be it with clients, customers, or even your coworkers.
Still, if the mere thought of dialing a number gives you cold sweats, you're not alone—and you're also not doomed to a future of fruitless cold-emailing.
Here are a few ways you can overcome phone-related anxiety, and master the ancient skill of making calls:
1. Role play
Get a team member (someone who's comfortable on the phone, obviously) to walk you through the kind of call you're going to make. Try your best to stay in character throughout the whole "call" and then ask you partner for feedback on where your sticky parts are.
Consciously taking a few deep breaths or meditating before picking up the receiver can work wonders for your phone manner—and attitude.
3. Reset your self-talk
What are you thinking while you anxiously listening to the dial tone, waiting for someone to answer—are you hoping for voicemail? Dreading rejection? Worried you're going to sound nervous or that you're sure to get shot down?
Stop. Reset. Tell yourself you're looking forward to chatting. Anticipate a warm reception. And believe in what you're going to say or ask for.
4. Fake it
Classic lack-of-confidence advice: until you're comfortable on the phone, pretend you are. Forcing yourself to sound friendly and at-ease will get you through the first few moments of a call, set a better tone, and help form a habit that will become a reality over time.
5. Distract yourself
People pace around while on the phone for a reason: giving yourself a mindless activity while making a call can help expend nervous energy and keep you sounding calm. If you don't have a headset (or walking around your office is annoying your coworkers), put a few objects on your desk to play with: a stress ball, Jacob's Ladder, an errant binder clip--whatever gets your mind off your anxiety, but not the matter at hand.
6. Team up
There's power in numbers. The next time you have to call a client, consider asking a colleague to conference in. This will take some of the pressure off of you to do all the talking or leading the conversation, and give you a little moral support.
7. Identify what the underlying fear is
Do you dread blanking out or stuttering? Worry about a harsh reaction or rejection? Get anxious about saying the right things at the right time? Think through what the source of your phone fear might be. If you can narrow it down to something specific (such as not knowing what to say if you hear "no"), you can better find a solution (like rehearsing answers to common questions or reactions with a colleague).
--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com
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