Why is talking on the phone so difficult for us?

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Willard
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18 Jul 2010, 3:17 pm

I can be on either side of the phone phobia depending on the situation and how I'm feeling that day. I spent decades answering studio request lines and actually enjoyed it - my dating life depended on smooth-talking the groupies. :wink: :D However, I was in pretty much total control there, and had the option of simply hanging up on a caller and putting the line on hold if they annoyed me.

Making a household business call, if I'm fully prepared, is not so bad, because I'm on a mission and there's usually not a lot of small talk, as its more about requesting information and waiting on hold - in those situations, you'd not know me from any friendly well-spoken neurotypical. If I'm not well prepared, or being peppered with questions I wasn't expecting, the old anxiety attack pops up instantly and I start stammering and mispronouncing words, accidentally interrupting the other person, leaving long awkward pauses and making a general idiot of myself.

Incoming calls are always screened. If I don't recognize the voice on the machine, I don't pick up. If I do recognize the voice, I may pick up if I'm feeling up to dealing with that person, or I may wait and call them back later, or send them a text or email. Its pretty much the same as someone ringing the doorbell. My instant reaction is to hide in another room and wait for them to go away. If they didn't call first and let me know they were coming, they aren't getting a response. Opening the door to strangers never ends well. :(



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18 Jul 2010, 3:45 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
For me, it's the peppy white girl, at the other end of the line ...


I got a seductive one a couple of weeks ago. At first she was simply friendly and attentive, but then I sensed some kind of change and it seemed she wanted to keep the call going as long as possible rather than moving along to the next even though my DSL customer-service question had been answered. I took advantage of the opportunity to ask a few more technical questions, but I was uneasy and uncertain about how to end that call without possibly leaving her feeling rejected or whatever. I certainly know I am no prize catch, but she sure did seem to be a master baiter!


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18 Jul 2010, 4:04 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
For me, it's the peppy white girl, at the other end of the line, without an accent, who expects everybody in Canada to speak, without an accent. Those are the types, who don't try to make an effort, to understand my speech patterns. The types that I hate, the most. I hate it, when a young, peppy girl answers the phone, because I know exactly what to expect. That the girl will be too lazy of a listener to try to understand my Cockney accent. Forget it! I'm not losing my accent, to suit those girls.


At least for me it wouldn't be a case of rudeness...it would be a genuine inability to understand.

If I know someone very, very well I don't tend to lose what they're saying on the phone, but I've had times where someone from work called me on my cell and literally for the first minute while they were telling me the information I needed to know, all I heard was sound that had the intonations of English, but not language. Probably some form of auditory processing disorder.

Out of curiosity, do you find yourself able to tell the difference between someone having that kind of difficulty, and someone who is just being obstinate or not making an effort?

OH! I love whoever invented the ability to have multiple ringtones on a phone. If I don't feel like I'm up to talking to my parents without snapping at them, I don't have to...I can get them to leave a voice mail.

(On the upside with a phone conversation, If I'm at home no one cares if I pace, play with toys, fidget or even lie on the floor like happened during a phone conversation today. I canNOT have a phone conversation without pacing like a madwoman the entire time, when I'm at home.)


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18 Jul 2010, 4:16 pm

metoikos wrote:
For me at least I have greater difficulty knowing when I should be talking and when the other person should. This leads to frequent interruptions and long pauses.

Ugh...totally. At least face-to-face I can see someone opening their mouth to start talking, so I know to shut up.

I have major problems with phone conversations. My previous position in work was brilliant...my job was just replying to emails. There was no risk of being called (or having to call) a customer...the only calls I would get would be from people in other offices who I already knew, and they'd be short ones because they were on the clock.

Unfortunately, I was moved to a new position recently (against my will) and it involves making phone calls, which has been stressing me out kinda a lot. =/

My friends nowadays prefer to communicate via text or Facebook, which is awesome for me. I can be funny and quick when I'm typing, but when I used to speak with friends on the phone I'd just be silent unless they asked me something directly.



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18 Jul 2010, 5:36 pm

Quote:
Out of curiosity, do you find yourself able to tell the difference between someone having that kind of difficulty, and someone who is just being obstinate or not making an effort?


I have a bit of difficulty telling the difference, because my female peers treated me like dirt, for being "Hard to understand" in High School. I have a really hart time telling, because I don't know if there's a different tone, between the lazy ones, and the ones, who really don't understand. However, I'm proud of my roots, and my accent.


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SoSayWeAll
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18 Jul 2010, 5:48 pm

No disagreement about being proud...be who you are. :)

I just know that for me it's because I really suck at understanding what's said to me on the phone sometimes. I try to fake understanding, and then I end up asking these questions that I know must sound stupid, just to get my brain to find the context of the conversation and through that "lock on" to what's being said (by knowing what words and concepts to anticipate) and somehow backfill everything. This happens to me with other Americans from my own part of the country, and I'm sure I would do a lot worse if there were an accent as well.

I would not mistreat a person under those circumstances, and I know that in some cases where people had a really thick accent, that I got good at understanding them in person quickly and sometimes when I was in college, I was one of the only people who would try to understand them. In one instance I was very embarrassed about, I answered completely the wrong question asked by a Thai graduate assistant. I went up to apologize to him after class, but come to find out, he seemed happier that someone TRIED and got it wrong, than with the people who didn't try.


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18 Jul 2010, 6:31 pm

For me, it's nothing to do with fear. It is, however, stressful.

1. The phone makes my auditory processing worse, so a good part of the time I have no clue what people are saying.

2. Talking for extended periods without being able to line up my words beforehand = a headache.

Besides that, it's boring, it tends to make people's voices hurt my ears, and the plastic of the handset hurts my hand.


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19 Jul 2010, 12:30 am

I loathe the telephone. Although I suck at a lot of body language and facial expression clues, I can often tell if someone is being dishonest if I can see their face. That is probably a big part of the problem for me, because trusting the wrong people has been a disaster for me so often in the past. So talking on the phone robs me of some sense of safety with people.



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19 Jul 2010, 12:55 am

I can't figure it out either. I've always had a fear/difficulty with phones and conversations over them, ever since I was young and my dad made me answer at his job. It's just inexplicably stressful. I hate answering a call, I shake and stumble over the hello. Even with friends it's bad. Any conversation outside of those with my SO and mother are terrible. I hate calling for information or to ask questions. There are even times when I have had panic attacks over using the phone.
I have to call to set up an apartment for school in a few days and I'm dreading that. I can't even pin point what I hate most about it. Luckily I have a very understanding fiancée that handles some of my calls for me. :)


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19 Jul 2010, 1:21 am

I believe it was Keith Richards who said "Phones are the bane of human existence" (he said this on a tour that was sponsered by....I think it was AT&T. He later apologized). But I think the man is on to something....

I hate talking on the phone as well. If I'm supposed to call someplace, I always end up just driving over there instead. As much as I hate speaking to people and making a fool of myself I'd rather do that then pick up the phone. And the funny part is that my job consists of using the phone A LOT.

But then there have been times where I would talk to someone for hours (always a girl). I once clocked in at 7 hours...which is my record for longest conversation on the phone :D I guess if I'm interested in someone I'll spend hours on the phone but if not? You might get 5 minutes outta me. Tops.


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19 Jul 2010, 7:16 am

I have to use the phone at work as well. As long as it's a matter I already have a script for, such as "You need to contact THESE people, here's their number, good bye" I don't mind the phone. I think the thing I don't like, is that it takes me a few seconds to process what the other end is saying. And if you don't answer fast enough, they think you're not listening or that you're stupid. So I tend to push myself to say something fast enough to avoid that, which means I wasn't able to think of anything useful to say. So I present myself in FAR from the fairest light possible when on the phone.

Come to think of it, I think it may also have to do with voices on the phone being a different frequency or something that makes them hard to understand.

But yeah, I will also run all over town to check on parts or whatever rather than just call around.



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19 Jul 2010, 8:13 am

I hate talking on the phone! I just don't get the point unless the other person lives very far away. I'd rather meet in person and talk. And I generally zone out on the phone too easily.



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19 Jul 2010, 8:53 am

Call backwarding topic

If I make the call, I am focused and know exactly what I want to say. but answering them is always a pain, as someone said, due to CAPD.


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19 Jul 2010, 12:48 pm

I think one of the reasons that I haven't been able to make peace with the telephone is that phone calls usually come unexpectedly and without any advanced notice; and they almost always interrupt a routine that I'm too eagerly engaged in doing at the time to even want to be doing anything else.


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19 Jul 2010, 12:59 pm

I get distracted quite a bit. I have to get the phone's volume up, and cover my other ear.


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