Dealing with a nerve-racking social situation? Banish stomach flutters and other signs of anxiety with tips from readers and experts
Table set for one
Credit: Cig Harvey

Liz Subin, 40, homemaker, Essex, Vermont

Suggests: Psych yourself up. “When a conservancy group I admire asked me to do some fund-raising for them, I thought it would be easy. I’m a confident person, but cold-calling stripped me of that fast. The first no was like a punch in the stomach. By the fifth, I felt like a failure. But rather than quitting, I tapped into my passion for the group, and that motivated me to find a way to get through those calls. To rev myself up, I’d go for a run, work in the garden, or bake. I’d also rehearse my fund-raising pitch. Treating myself to a cup of tea after every 10 calls also helped.”

Experts Add:

  • Know the odds. “It usually takes 20 cold calls to net even one sale. So every single rejection is not cause for increasing alarm,” says Craig Harrison, a California-based corporate coach who teaches a class called Take the Chill out of Cold Calls.
  • Stretching, cleaning, or singing your favorite song before you make the call releases tension, as does smiling. “Research shows that smiling makes you sound more relaxed,” says Harrison.
  • Keep your pitch short―about 16 seconds―so you don’t waffle, which will only compound your nerves, Harrison says.
  • A bulleted script can also boost confidence. But in the end the key is to treat the call like any other.