How I Met Your Mother's Approach Anxiety

I’ve as yet not seen a full episode of American sitcom How I Met Your Mother. But I have stumbled across the closing seconds of one. The scene was set in an office, and the character Ted Mosby was being given a pep talk by a lady that I think was called Robin. Sitting at his desk, he was moaning.

Ted: I’m having a staring competition with the phone and losing

Robin: aw, you can take that thing

You gather that he was struggling to make cold calls to set up his embryonic design business. He immediately began to dial. Robin exits, stage right. He then spoke into the phone with a surprisingly upbeat and professional, rather than the prior misery-laden demeanour, something like this,

Ted: Hi, I’m Ted Mosby from Mosby Design wondering if you have any design needs at the moment?

As he speaks, Robin rushes back in, mobile glued to her ear.

Ted: Do I sound confident?

Robin: Yeah, now make some real calls!

Cue canned laffs. Ted had only managed to call his friend, not a prospect.

What about the message contained here? Forget the ineffective pitch script, it’s the fact that cold-callers stare at their phones and don’t pick them up.

A got a copy of a wobbly scanned page of type from the hands of salespeople I know depicting this very problem. It’s about beating this so-called Approach Anxiety.

There’s a few risque gags (it sounds like it’s aimed at, ahem, male dating tips) yet some of the statements are remarkably relevant to phone phobia. Here’s a flavour.

“psychologically speaking, it’s less a fear of approaching than a fear of rejection”

“failure is not being rejected, it’s never getting in position to be rejected”

One line I really liked was,

let go of your outcome

Your goal is not to make a sale. Far from it. It’s to have a conversation. How difficult can that be? With the right mindset and framework, it’s a piece of cake.

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