replied 3 years ago.
Hi again, and thanks very much for your detailed and helpful reply.
What you are describing is not uncommon and it is a form of social anxiety. I know people who have the same reaction when making phone calls or answering phone calls and become very nervous and anxious.
I do think, deep down, you are basically shy and when you communicate with others through email, whether it is for business or personal purposes, you feel this is a 'safe' mode of communication. On the phone, I think your apprehension and anxiety may stem from several factors: you are afraid you might not hear the person correctly; you are afraid you may not know the answer to a question you are asked; you fear that you are so nervous, it's difficult to concentrate and your mind may go blank, leaving you with nothing to say, plus, as you mentioned, you are fearful that the person may be unhappy, become angry and shout at you. (see more on this, below)
There are many ways to overcome this feeling of anxiousness when speaking on the phone. First, be prepared--in a work situation, make notes about what you want to say or ask the client and any relevant facts/notes you may have regarding the situation so you are prepared with answers. Keep a pen and paper available whenever you make any phone calls, so you can jot down what's being said or asked, so you don't forget it later. If you feel put on the spot, you can always say something like, "I'll have to check on that for you and will get back to you with the information." You can then, send an email with the information, instead of calling the client back, thus, avoiding another phone call.
The same thing can help when speaking with friends on the phone. Keep a list of questions to ask, that are important, if you need specific information, etc., and/or just write down some good conversation starters and prepared responses you can give or contribute, during the conversation.
Feeling 'prepared' before speaking on the phone is going to lessen your anxiety and make you feel more comfortable. Telling someone you need to call them back or email them back (in appropriate situations) will help take the burden off you if you can't answer a question or feel too overwhelmed to continue the conversation at the moment.
I do feel you would benefit from seeing a counselor or therapist about this situation to get some other tips on how to handle this problem; you are young, and conquering this fear/anxiety now, will aid greatly in your future business and personal life. Also, discuss a possible anti-anxiety medication with the professional that you see, if it is felt this is necessary and will be helpful.
Build up your confidence by continuing to tell yourself that you are very good at what you do, you are sure of the things (facts/situations) you are discussing with clients (and/or friends) and there is nothing to fear in speaking on the phone. You always have your 'out,' if you feel you must end the phone call, with a promise to get back to that person, so you won't feel 'backed into a corner,' as it were.
Another good exercise is to practice in the comfort of your own home and pretend you're on the phone with a client or a friend. Write a 'script' for both parts--you and the person you're speaking to on the phone. Ask a good friend with whom you feel comfortable, to help you 'role play' in these practice conversations. Practice with both a 'good' scenario where the client is happy with your work or your company's work and a 'bad' scenario, where the client may be mad, unhappy and/or is shouting at you.
Being shouted at, on the phone, IS uncomfortable, but cannot hurt you physically, so convince yourself that there is nothing to fear. Yes, it is something no one wants to hear, but the more the person shouts, or the angrier they become, the calmer you convince yourself to become! Speak softly and throw in some phrases agreeing with the person, telling them you understand perfectly, and saying that you will look into this problem and resolve it. This will stop the shouting and make them feel happier because you will be taking care of it.
I hope these suggestions prove helpful and please let me know if you have any further questions or if I can clarify anything for you by clicking Reply. If not, please be so kind as to Rate my answer with positive feedback, as that is the only way I am recognized by the site for my assistance. Thank you very much!
I hope things will improve for you very soon!
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