Facing phone anxiety: "Preparation is everything."
When is the last time you made a phone call? Was it recent, or some time ago? Research by Motivaction shows a growing number of young people is struggling with phone anxiety. That’s a shame, we found it slows down professional communication. Fortunately, there are many ways to address phone anxiety. In the following weeks, alumni Tim Bongaerts and Lars Meijer, will publish a series of articles with one goal in mind: to enhance your entrepreneurship.
Clammy hands, heart palpitations and especially stress: these are the symptoms of people who struggle with phone anxiety, an increasingly common phenomenon. Research by Motivaction shows that 38% of young people between 18 and 30 in the Netherlands is uncomfortable with phone calls and prefers messaging through WhatsApp or e-mail. With friends and family, the problem is often less serious, but as an entrepreneur, phone anxiety can have a negative impact on your business: difficulties contacting clients, waiting endlessly for e-mails and a lot of stress when a phone call becomes unavoidable. All this takes up precious time and energy that could have been dedicated to making new work.
Lars remembers one important lesson about phone calls from his time before ArtEZ, when he studied journalism. "One of the first assignments we got was calling a source. We had to record the call, so that we could listen to it in class and discuss it. My call went badly. I was really nervous and, because of that, I kept confusing the words 'performance' and 'exhibition' while I was talking to a gallery owner. From the feedback I got in class, I learned that a phone call can easily be prepared. I still do that before making important calls."
If you browse the internet for ways to combat phone anxiety, the biggest tip you'll get from most experts is to "just do it." While there is some truth to this, it's not necessarily the most helpful tip to get started. So we scoured the internet for easy and practical information that can give you more peace of mind when making a phone call:
Preparation. A professional phone call can generally be prepared well, since there's a clear pattern to these kinds of calls. You can use a call script as a guideline and 'cheat sheet' so you don't forget anything you'd like to say or ask. The call script also helps you figure out why you're calling instead of e-mailing and what you're trying to achieve. A functional call script can be found on the website Sochicken.
Announce your call. Fear of interrupting someone or calling at a bad time can lead to delaying a phone call or never getting around to it at all. You can avoid this by asking first thing if your call is coming at a convenient time. This can also take some of the pressure off.
Call times. Discuss in advance with your client what time slots are convenient for calls, so that you both know when to expect a possible phone call.
Call from a quiet place. Environmental noise or a distracting environment can cause you to lose focus or mishear something, raising your stress levels. In a quiet place, you won't have this problem.
Practice the conversation. This might seem a little embarrassing, but sitting with a friend and holding a banana to your ear to practice the call can take away some of the unpredictability.
You can always take a moment. If someone asks you a question that you can't answer at that time, about your rates, for example, it's always an option to say "let me get back to you on that". You're not expected to know everything immediately.
A solid business depends on more than a phone call, but you can avoid a lot of worrying if you can lower the threshold to ask something directly. That way, the time and energy you save can be invested on the commissions waiting for your attention. And who knows, maybe a smooth phone call can lead to new work in the future. Good luck!
The graduates of 2020 were thrown into a completely different work field than they been prepared for. How do they deal with the influence of the coronavirus on their creative professional practice? Lars Meijer and Tim Bongaerts, 2020 alumni from ArtEZ Creative writing, will look for ways to do business in this new world in collaboration with the ArtEZ Business Center. By talking to resourceful entrepreneurs, they try to find out what it means to be an entrepreneurial artist at the moment.
More practical articles by Tim and Lars: