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How to Avoid Being Nervous When Talking on the Phone

David used to have a big fear of speaking in public. He got over that, so now he wants to help you get over your fear of public speaking.

Some people would prefer to break their phone rather than make a phone call.

Some people would prefer to break their phone rather than make a phone call.

Feeling Anxious During a Phone Call

The problem with technology is that we have the ever growing ability to make and receive a phone call, at any time, over a variety of ways. Home phone, cell phone, voice over IP, etc. We are bombarded with phone calls twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This leads to constant nervousness. You don't know who could be calling, why they are calling, and what they want. While technology has given us the ability to communicate a variety of ways, it can still lead to constant nervousness due to phone calls coming in at any time.

However, there are ways to overcome feeling anxious during a phone call, or in avoiding it altogether. As someone who felt constantly nervous during phone calls, I can offer advice to others who are experiencing the same problem.

Author's Experience Being Nervous on the Phone

I used to get very nervous when making or receiving phone calls. I had a job that dealt with just that, and it would make me so physically sick I couldn't take it. It also meant that I lost that job. However, in time I had to get over that if I wanted to be employed. Through practice and focusing on what I was having problems in, I was able to overcome my nervousness.

Why Do You Feel Nervous During a Phone Call?

The Telephone Phobia

Being afraid to answer or talk on the telephone is an actually fear, called Telephonophobia or Telephobia. Lots of people have this fear and it's not something to be ashamed of. If you are still unable to get over your fear despite trying, then you may wish to seek therapy or help of some kind to get the issue resolved.

10 Tips on How to Stop Being Nervous When Making a Phone Call

The first step is to learn how to make a phone call without being nervous. This is easier than receiving a phone call, and it's a good way to bridge the gap so you can overcome the fear of receiving a phone call. These tips should help with that process.

  1. Simulate a phone call. While talking to a friend you trust, hold the phone to your ear. You aren't talking to anyone, but it will get you used to talking while the phone is up to your ear.
  2. Get prepared for the phone call. If you are going to be talking about a certain topic or situation, then make notes that you can refer to during the phone call. Also have a pad of paper and a pencil handy, or a computer to take notes on. You don't want to have to ask the caller to repeat information when you are speaking to them.
  3. Prepare your greeting. Even though you won't be the first one speaking, you will be the one stating what you need or want. So prepare a statement ahead of time. Include your name, what organization you are calling from, etc.
  4. Realize the other person could be just as nervous or may not even care. If you are calling a business, then they are used to the call and won't be nervous at all. If you are calling someone prior to a blind date, then the other person could be just as nervous. Take the situation into account and be prepared for it.
  5. Free yourself from distractions. Don't play with your cat, try to type up a report, etc. when you are about to make a phone call. Distractions will only cause you to make mistakes during the phone call, causing your nervousness to grow.
  6. Speak slowly and clearly. The easiest way to be misunderstood is that you are speaking too fast and mumbling your words. Don't rush your phone calls. Slow down, speak clearly, and ensure the person you are talking to understands what you are saying. You'll only get more nervous if you have to repeat yourself constantly, causing the other person to become frustrated.
  7. Act courteous and professional. Most calls will go smoothly if you act friendly and proper. If you are rude or unprofessional, then the call can go south fast. Keep in mind that you called them.
  8. Be aware of background noises. Phones and other devices now a days can pick up a lot of background noises, even if you want them to or not. So don't go to the bathroom during a phone call. Take care of all of that prior to making your phone call.
  9. Have something to drink close by. Drinking water during a conversation is totally acceptable. When you get nervous, your throat could get dry and your voice may crack. So take a quick drink of water.
  10. Look your best for video calls. If you are going to be having a call over video, such as on Skype, ensure you look your best. Not only that, ensure everything in the background looks appropriate as well, especially if you are at home.
Practicing a phone call is the best way to get over the anxiety of being on an actual phone call.

Practicing a phone call is the best way to get over the anxiety of being on an actual phone call.

10 Tips on How to Stop Being Nervous When Receiving a Phone Call

Receiving a phone call can be an even more nerve-wracking experience than making a phone call. You don't know who you are speaking to for the most part, and you may not be prepared depending on situation. The following tips will help with the process.

  1. Look at the caller ID. This is the best way to prepare for an incoming phone call. The caller ID will tell you who is calling or the name of the organization. This will give you a few moments to prepare for the phone call.
  2. Listen to what the caller needs. Don't interrupt them if at all possible. Listen to their needs and address them accordingly. They could be calling because you initially called them for some reason. So in the end it may be you that need their assistance.
  3. Be prepared for the unexpected. Distractions, dry throat, and other problems can happen during a phone call. If it's an unexpected phone call, you can place the person on hold so you can quickly deal with the situation, and then go back to the call. This will keep you from nervously dealing with the situation that just came up. Also prepare for a possible prank phone call.
  4. Don't feel rushed. The caller may expect you to have all the answers they need right away. You probably won't. So don't let yourself feel rushed. Advise the person to wait a moment while you find the necessary information.
  5. Act courteous and professional. Just like the tip above, this one is also a must. Even though the person called you, if you don't act in a proper manner, then that could cause problems and make you even more nervous during the phone call.
  6. Change the ringtone of your phone. If you are allowed to or if it's a personal phone, then change the ring to something that you will want to hear. Some people become nervous at hearing a standard telephone ring,
  7. Set your phone on vibrate. Cell phones can vibrate instead of playing a sound when a call comes in. This can be a lot less jarring, which will make you better prepared to answer the phone call.
  8. Don't enable the video right away. If it's a video call coming in, then quickly prepare yourself to look your best. If you have to, don't turn the video on or cover the camera up until you are prepared. However, if you were expecting the video call, there is no reason why you shouldn't have been prepared.
  9. Add contacts to your phone. If you add contacts to your phone, this will further help you identify who is calling you. Cell phones as well as some land line phones are capable of this.
  10. Let the phone call go to voicemail. If you feel you aren't prepared for it at all, then let the call go to voicemail. Then, you can check it afterwards, prepare yourself, and call the person back.

Alternatives to Phone Calls

There are ways to outright avoid making or receiving a phone call. If you wish to avoid phone calls at all costs, then try these alternate methods.

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  • E-Mails. E-mails are a decent way to communicate with others. There are disadvantages of this though. The person can misinterpret what you mean, there could be a delay in the response, and the issue won't be resolved immediately. I would only use this in non-priority matters.
  • Text Message. This is a more direct approach, which can be easier than e-mail. But it can be considered unprofessional depending on who you are texting. There is also the possibility you won't receive a response right away.
  • Instant Messages. Computer programs, like Skype, allow for you to instant message other users. This is similar to a text message. It can be faster, but could also be considered unprofessional and isn't always available.
  • Face-to-Face Communication. If possible you can just meet the person directly to hash out the issue. However, if it's something that could have been handled over a simple phone call, the person will wonder why you went to the trouble to see them in person.
  • Snail Mail. You can go the old fashion route and mail a letter. But this should only be used when a response isn't needed and there really isn't any other way to communicate with the person you need to communicate with.

Best Alternative to Phone Calls

I see people putting text messages on the phone or computer and I think, 'Why don't you just call?'

— William Shatner

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 David Livermore


Abhishek Gupta from Kolkata on September 17, 2013:

It was a different yet a good read I would say... I have actually been nervous in person but over the phone this situation has not arisen as of yet... However after going this article it certainly makes me believe that there can be situations which might lead to this as well..

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on September 16, 2013:

Like you, I have lost employment over this issue. It has been a sore spot for me, as I have difficulty dealing with the unexpected. When I realized that I was questioning my own competency and feeling that I wasn't good enough, I had to delve into problems with my core feelings of self-worth. Once I changed my own self-talk, I was able to decrease my level of nervousness. I have a certain time of day when I initiate calls, and do advance preparation to prepare. As a result, I am able to better handle the phone calls, even when they come unexpectedly.

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on September 15, 2013:

Great advice!!

Jessica Peri from United States on September 15, 2013:

While I am a lot less nervous on the phone than I used to be, I do still stumble over my words when I am feeling unsure. I usually have to remind myself to just talk slower. Voted up!

Kevina Oyatedor on September 14, 2013:

I have been practicing phone calls since I was little and I still get nervous at times. This is very good advice. Great hub.

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