(Photo Credit: zigazou76/Flickr)
First and foremost, the goal is not to psych yourself out. The less time you spend thinking about your phone call before you make it, the better off you'll be. Think of it this way: even the most confident person you know would stumble a bit if he or she had to listen to a loop of worst-case scenarios ahead of time. Don't create your own disaster loop.
Beyond that, a little prep is everything:
1. Don't be afraid to make notes.
While you don't want to write out a script ahead of time, a few words to remind you of the goal of the conversation never go amiss. That way, you won't talk to someone for fifteen minutes only to discover -- after you hang up -- that you forgot to mention the whole point of the call.
2. Seriously, write down anything you need.
Do you forget your own phone number in times of stress? Write it down. Do you need to tell the other person to meet you in a specific conference room at a certain time? Jot that down as well. No one will think less of you for stumbling over a detail, but you'll feel more secure.
3. Remember that everyone is very busy worrying about themselves.
No one has any time to judge you. Worrying about ourselves is a full-time job that leaves nothing left over for thinking about whether anyone else sounds uncomfortable.
4. Don't chew gum.
Or suck candies. Or eat your lunch. Etc.
5. Remember that there's a good chance your conversational companion hates the phone, too.
Now that we can talk to our friends, organize our calendars, get directions, read the internet, and order food on our phones without ever saying a word, many of us are getting out of the habit of talking on the phone at all. Many of us old folks, born in the dark ages before the internet, hate to use the phone. Odds are, you're not alone.
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