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10 Ways to Manage Anxiety When Talking on the Telephone

My anxiety level goes pretty high when I have to talk on the telephone. I do not know an explanation why other than perhaps I am simply wired this way.

Despite working for years in telephone sales, and having countless conversations over the phone, that anxiety still comes up.

So while I still feel anxious, I have come up with some intervening methods over the years to blunt the anxious feeling and allow me to talk with confidence.

    1. Take time to gather yourself.

    If you are in a position to take a few minutes before the call must be made, then use the time to prepare and relax.

    2. Listen to/watch someone confidently speak.

    Modeling is one of the primary and best ways that human beings learn. Find a video or audio recording of someone you know who speaks confidently and listen to that person talk for a few minutes. It's a great way to get in the confidence mindset, and you can mimic some of the ways the person speaks when you are on your call.

    3. Breathe.

    Close your eyes for one minute. Relax your body. And breathe. Long, slow deep breath in, and then let it go. Repeat that several times and then open your eyes.

    4. Smile and dial.

    This old cliché sales advice is a cliché for a reason - it works. Just as your brain sends signals to your body, your body can send signals to your brain. By smiling, you are telling your brain you are relaxed and happy.

    5. Fake it.

    Act the part, even if you don't feel it. You have watched or listened to someone confident, now fake like you are that person. If you do this enough times, you might even start to naturally embody it.

    6. Open up your body language.

    This one goes along with smiling and faking it. If you are sitting down, hunched over, nervously rubbing your hands together, it's going to come through in how you speak. If possible, stand up, open up your chest, and extend your arms to the sky. Don't fidget. If nothing else, you will feel better.

    7. Speak slowly.

    Know that rushing and stumbling and bumbling will result in an ineffective conversation. So just don't do it. Pretend you are a podcast or audiobook set at 1/2 speed and speak slow and relaxed.

    8. Focus intensely on what the other person is saying.

    Sometimes anxiety can grow because you are too focused on yourself. If you can redirect your focus outward toward what the other person - you know, what you should be doing when you're talking with someone anyway - instead of obsessively focusing inward on your anxiety, it will help to calm you down.

    9. Remind yourself that the other person is probably anxious as well.

    This is something that took me a long time to realize, but it's true. A lot of people are anxious to talk on the phone. Even people who seem supremely confident talking to anyone on the phone have told me they get nervous. So relax a little and give yourself a break, because you are not the only one dealing with this anxiety.

    10. Focus on how relieved you will feel when the call is over.

    Just like in a race, you're running, you're tired, and you just want it to end. But the way to end it is to complete the race, and each time you do you feel great. Same for telephone calls. If the anxiety starts to rise, focus on that relieved feeling you'll have when it's done.
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