Help, phone phobia! How to get rid of the fear

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You need something at work or want to make a new contact. If you’re effective, you pick up the phone. Ideally, at least. But when phone phobia strikes, it’s a different story.

All excuses
Instead of calling, you start looking for excuses not to. “The ways are extremely creative,” says communication trainer Jürgen Eisserer. In the end, many people shirk and choose the written message. Why is that?

“Because they are afraid of rejection,” explains Eisserer. What’s more, many don’t know exactly what they want to say or are worried that they won’t be able to meet the other person’s expectations on the phone. “We’re afraid because we don’t know how the other person will react,” says the trainer. The fear of immediately invading someone’s privacy with a call is great.

That’s why the phobia only strikes in an explicit telephone situation, namely “really only when I actively pick up the phone and call,” says Eisserer. You can decide whether and when you want to pick up if you receive the call. In this respect, inhibitions would exist in both internal and external communication. Nevertheless, you don’t have to lose heart, explains the trainer.

Out of fear
A good phone call requires self-confidence, quick-wittedness and routine, says Eisserer. How do you get all that? “First of all, you have to pragmatically admit that you have a problem with making phone calls and then recognize the benefits of doing it more often.” After all, our attitude is crucial to how we approach a phone call.

The actual implementation occurs slowly and steadily (and can be supported by telephone training). One practical step is to choose fixed telephone times. “This awakens a familiarity in the brain,” says Eisserer, and this is needed to develop a sense of comfort when making phone calls.
In other words, you decide to make the most important phone calls at a fixed time every day and develop a habit. Relief should come in just one month, provided you also practice daily. Calls would not automatically have to go outside – it could also be colleagues a few desks away that you would otherwise have contacted via chat.

If you feel like you’re being watched while on the phone, it helps to retreat to phone boxes or other rooms. “It takes effort, but it helps to build a habit,” says Eisserer. To train your own quick-wittedness, you should also prepare fixed phrases or follow-up questions that can be used at any time.

“You can ask them in 100 different ways to keep the conversation going,” explains Eisserer and gives an example: “Is there anything else you would like to tell me?” Questions like these would also help you to have a good conversation when cold calling.

Eisserer warns against “telephone parties”, where a team works through phone calls simultaneously to motivate each other. A practice often used in sales but should be used with caution: “If there are one or two people in there who are well practiced, it’s dangerous. Because the frightened person can see how far away they are.” Only if the team was on the same level would it be possible to gain something from phone parties for the individuals.

The big no-go
What you should never do: Continue not to make phone calls – because fear needs to be desensitized. “If you’re afraid of snakes, you have to touch snakes. If you’re afraid of talking on the phone, you have to pick up the phone,” says Eisserer. The worst-case scenario would be someone hanging up anyway, says Eisserer. “And that has no immediate health consequences.”

In other words, there are worse things. And if someone does hang up, you can call them back. “Not immediately, but once the emotions have died down,” says the keynote speaker. If this happens in cold calling or sales, cross the person off the list and don’t take the hang-up personally.

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