Today I made around 12 phone calls at work. I had to call people for different purposes. It may sound funny to a lot of people but when I first moved to Canada, I was terrified of being on the phone with anyone. My main fear was that I wouldn’t understand what they were saying or they wouldn’t understand me. English is not my first language and I think that was the main reason why I had that fear.
I felt that being from a different country, my accent would be too strong; I had this idea ingrained in my mind that people would not understand me and would get frustrated. I thought I had gotten over that fear. After all, during my first year in Canada I had to call people many times. I would also receive calls and it all seemed to work very well. I rarely had any problem and I felt more confident. Moreover, at my ELT class, we practiced leaving voice messages for professional purposes. We were also given great tips on how to sound clear over the phone and in person. This may be a little scary for some people but we actually had to do one minute long impromptu speeches, while standing in front of the whole class. The first couple times my classmates and I did the speech, we may not have been very good; but we got better the more we practiced. This exercise, along with the advice we received for calling people and leaving voice messages, helped me a lot in gaining confidence.
The fear returned, however, the moment I started working. Knowing I would have to call people in my field very often brought back that insecurity. The first couple times that I had to do it, my heart was racing. As time has gone by it has gotten easier and easier. Today, I didn’t even think about being nervous or insecure before making any of my calls. I know that as long as I speak at a good pace (not too fast, not too slow) and I prepare before a call, it will be OK.
I know this is something that other newcomers I know have experienced. I remember talking to a person from Argentina who had this problem. She told me that she never picked up the phone when it rang at home. It was nerve-wrecking for her because she was still studying English and didn’t think she would be able to understand or make herself understood on the phone. Though I don’t know how she is doing now, I’m pretty sure she must have gotten over it after time went by.
Something as simple and normal to most people can be a challenge to a newcomer. Thankfully, with time and practice it all gets better and easier. I know it did for me and now I love calling people.
As a newcomer, was this also a challenge for you? Do you know anyone who went through this? What tips would you suggest to get over this fear?
I look forward to reading your comments! Thanks!