Tips for making phone calls that you don’t want to make.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Tips for making phone calls that you don’t want to make.

We’ve all had the experience of having to make phone calls that we dread making.
Here are some tips to get yourself through these calls as painlessly as possible:

The night before, make a list of the calls to be made, along with names, phone numbers, and any other necessary information.

If you’re making some kind of pitch or argument, rehearse in your mind what you want to say. Have an outline to make sure you hit the important points once the call begins.

If you want to set up appointments, have some convenient times in mind.

As soon as you get to your desk in the morning, pick up the phone and start dialing. No procrastinating, or you may never begin.

Stand up while you talk.

Smile and use a friendly tone.

If you have more than one call to make, don’t hang up the phone when the first call is over. Keep the phone at your ear and use your finger to disconnect the call.

Don’t let yourself be hungry, hot, cold, or in need of a bathroom when you’re calling.

Keep good records on when you called, whether you left a message or spoke to someone, and what was said.

If you leave a message, repeat your name and phone number twice, and also leave an email address as an alternative communication route. Keep your message as brief as possible. No chit-chat on voice-mail!

If you have bad news for someone, don’t shilly-shally with small talk.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Good topic – and surprisingly relevant to happiness. Phone calls are one of those deceptively simple tasks that can create an inordinate amount of angst when left undone.
    Sometimes I also “dress” for important/nerve wracking calls as though it were in person. I do much better on the phone in a business suit and smart shoes than I do in my flannel jammies and bunny slippers.
    I’m late in discovering it, but I love your project. Looking forward to seeing what it all turns into (in print).

  • NTE

    Oy, how much do I hate talking on the phone? The phony-phone voice, the fact that I have to write myself a script beforehand, the nerves that bubble up for something as stupid as making an appointment. It’s embarrassing, really: that such a little thing turns into such a major production. But I’m so glad that other people have similar issues. I love your project – such a worthwhile goal, happiness!

  • I have a hard time making calls from work to my doctors, partly because I’m not crazy about going to the doctor, partly because I feel a little guilty for making any personal calls from work. But there are some appointments I really need to make.
    I feel motivated to make this one call tomorrow, one I’ve been putting off for months.
    Thanks for this post!

  • Peter Barss

    I have an idea to achieve happiness: write a self-indugent, vacuous book on the subject. Fill it with platitudes and common sense aphorisms that anyone but a complete fool would be thoroughly familiar with and then sell this self help idiocy for lots and lots of money. Then take a vacation. You won’t have to travel South where the sun shines. Just stretch out and bask in the warmth of self congratulatory praise for deluding yourself into believing that what you’ve done is something intelligent and worthwhile.

  • Peter Barss

    PS A question: if you are “struggling to be Gretchen” who the hell are you right now?

  • Susan

    I just want to tell you that I love this blog! I only found it a few days ago. I will be lining up for your book, believe me.

  • Jackie

    Is it just me or is Peter Barss comment make him seem like a jerk. Just because I take joy in reading this blog doesn’t make me an idiot. There are many things that people forget day to day and we need people like Gretchen to remind us from time to time. It’s sounds stupid but many people do need to be told to be happy. She is Gretchen but not the Gretchen that makes her completely happy. I have to tell myself to be well myself sometimes. Be real be you. Great blog. I’m an avid reader and not a dumb one either.

  • I hate making phone calls, even to make an appointment to cut my hair.
    One thing I love about blogs is that if you find one that you don’t like, you can just go on to the next.

  • I hate making phone calls, even to make an appointment to cut my hair.
    One thing I love about blogs is that if you find one that you don’t like, you can just go on to the next.

  • the whooping crone

    Thanks, mother in israel, for reminding me.
    Let me make haste while the sun shines to do just that.

  • elizabeth

    Thanks for this information. I thought I was alone in having difficulty making phone calls, even ones that are for my benefit.
    I like this site.

  • lonniej56

    I have such a dread of making phone calls, even to people I love. I kid myself that writing is more personal. It’s not a fear, it’s just something I hate and stress over. Thanks, I thought I was the only one on earth. Good luck on your book, can’t wait to read it. Lonniej56

  • brooklynchick

    Love this entry – I procrastinate phone calls like MAD – even though its a key part of my job!!!
    Thanks as ever Gretchen!

  • Fantastic ideas! Thank you for sharing!

  • effiethedog

    Glad I’m not alone with my phoneaphobia…got some help here.

  • marielle imanil



  • Big Mike

    Not wanting to speak on the phone is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon, as we rely on it less in favour of email, SMS, and social media.
    But often telephonophobia stems from dissatisfaction with ones own voice. The good news is that your voice can be trained, and once you develop a voice you love you’ll want every opportunity to use it. Phone calls will be a breeze, and if you make them for a living it will help you love your job.
    I’m not selling anything with this, I’m just saying.

    • stanthewarrior

      It’s not so much my voice as my accent that I can’t stand :/

  • Tracey Baglin

    HATE the phone … with the advent of smartphones i often get a shock when mine actually rings! i love the idea of preparing the day before and getting it done first thing! the one thing i have started doing is repeating the name of the person who answers the phone and asking them how they are … if i can start the call on a friendly note i feel more confident i can continue it that way. great article! T

  • yasmin

    Yea these tips are helpful, I have tried some of them and am reflecting on working out the others. All in all its a matter of getting organized. I have tried the not hungry, or cold formula. When I am feeling good then I can be more controlled,confident and less likely to snap or lose my temper only to regret it later on.

  • ejr

    I have telephonophobia, too. Two tricks that have helped me:

    (1) Make the call at 11:00 am local time. A former boss gave me this tip. He told me that 11:00 am is late enough that the person you’re calling is not just arriving at work, but early enough that the person you’re calling is probably not yet hungry for lunch. You can’t always know whether your callee is a morning person or a night person, but 11:00 am works for either.

    (2) Write out a script. The very act of writing out what I want to say helps me get to the point and refine my language. With a script, I’m more willing to make the call and feel more confident when I speak. And, amazingly, even when I’m reading straight from my script, it always sounds pretty natural.

  • Asha Brewer

    Great advice! I can put this to use immediately!