This week I had to file my sales tax return for my books.
A simple misunderstanding on the form resulted in a visit to the bank, three phone calls, an email, and talking with my dad for any ideas. The process took about seven hours spread over two days.
This morning I decided to get up my nerve and call the State office to talk to them about it.
The lady I spoke with was very kind and helpful. She didn't make me feel stupid or silly, explained what was going on, and what I could do. She was patient and helpful, and when we were done, told me to have a good day. Having that mess sorted out so quickly and easily - I was on the phone with her for about five minutes - has gone a long way towards making my day better.
I don't know about you, but I have issues with making phone calls. I'm better now about answering phone calls and calling my friends, but having to make a call to someone I don't know stresses me out.
Especially if it's something like this.
I've had my fair share of panicking over the telephone. I still do prefer to text than to talk, but that has more to do with my preference to write than to speak. I'm always afraid that I'll mess up something important by saying the wrong words, or that I'll start crying in the middle of a situation, or any number of self-induced disasters. If I can email instead of talk, I will take that route.
But here's three reasons to pick up the phone and dial:
1 - connection
A voice over the phone is much more intimate than an email. It just is. You can convey more than you can in an email, just because there's tone of voice and so on. A conversation goes much faster on the phone because you communicate in sentences instead of paragraphs.
2 - faster assistance
I sent an email to the State last night and I haven't gotten a response yet. Normally I'd just wait, but since I need to have this filed posthaste, I didn't have that luxury. Making the phone call got me someone to talk to right away. I didn't even get put on hold this time, but when I have before, it's still been faster than an email exchange.
3 - professionalism
Is that a word? I don't know. If it isn't, another phrase that would work is business skills. I answer phones in the morning at the computer shop my family owns. It's made it so much easier for me to make these kinds of phone calls. I've learned to adjust my voice slightly so my words are distinct on the phone, to be concise, polite, and collected. I've learned to deal with irate customers on the phone, and even if they make me want to cry afterwards, I can conclude the conversation with them.
So yeah, I stress about important phone calls, and I make a mental script, and everything. But I've had enough practice that it's starting to not be such a huge deal. Speaking on the phone is a skill, and a very good one to have.
Tips for having a successful phone call:
Make sure your environment isn't making it harder for you. A clean desk, a pad of paper, a pen, and whatever references you need for the phone call will help you feel prepared, because well, you are.
Make sure your pen works. Seriously, this is huge. Before you make the phone call, test your pen and make sure it works.
Have a sip of water first. This will help your mouth not be too dry. If you get put on hold, take another sip. Don't guzzle it down though! Needing a restroom stop isn't going to help your nerves.
Write down the important things you need to talk about, or make a mental script. Some people might find it more helpful to have a list in front of them. I use my mental script as a way to focus myself on the call, so I don't tend to write things down.
Remember that the person on the other end of the phone is a human too. They're probably not that concerned if you stumble over your words a bit, or if you're nervous and uncomfortable. They talk to people on the phone a lot and you're not going to be that memorable.
Be polite. Saying thank you very much at the end of the call will make you feel better, make the person you spoke with feel better, and generally make the whole thing end of a happy note. Guess what? That really helps with the next time.
It is okay to get someone to help you if you really need it. I had my mother call to make the appointment for my wisdom teeth extraction last month, because I was too stressed and upset about the whole thing. I was pretty sure I'd start crying if I got on the phone. She offered to help me call about my taxes today, but I got it taken care on my own. Stretching yourself is good, but you're not trying to break. If you pull a rubber band too far, it snaps. That's not the goal here. If you really can't make the phone call, that's okay.
copyright 2018 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Image from Pixabay