View Full Version : Phone call - vent/rant/help?

09-11-16, 02:51 AM
This next week I have to make an important phone call.

I planned to do it last week, but when the time came I had a bad anxiety attack and couldn't do it.

I am placing this post here because it is anxiety issues mixed with autism issues, and the anxiety issues are debilitating.

This phone call is an important one where I'll find out information about something, and I need to know the right questions to ask. I'm thinking of questions I want to ask, but I am afraid they will sound silly and stupid.

I'm also extremely anxious about the fact that this is a complicated phone call and I can't pre-write a script for it, and usually with these types of phone calls when that happens I end up having lots of awkward long silences when they ask me open-ended questions, and when I finally answer it isn't what they wanted. I need need need closed-ended questions that I can give a straightforward answer to.

And when I am unable to continue faking NT(usually happens around the time they realize I can't answer open-ended questions, or questions I wasn't expecting) I start getting treated badly over the phone and talked down to, and it makes me want to just hang up and never call back, because I get so anxious.

I guess I need support that I can "do this" even though it will be very difficult and likely result in a shutdown filled with anxiety. (That's pessimistic but the truth)

I wish this were easier! This is why my husband handles most of the phone calls (to get an idea how often I call someone on the phone, I've only made one phone call so far this year - that's how hard it is for me) but for this one it is important I do it. (I'm talking about I've only made one phone call over the phone and not talking about Skype with friends)

Help??? Advice??? How do I not totally freak out? I don't have the proper NT scripts for when I mess up what I'm saying or when I answer the question wrongly. I don't know how to introduce a question in a non-blunt way and I don't know how to tell if my question has been answered because often NTs reply back with vague answers.

And another embarrassing thing is I often can't process the information I'm hearing, so it leads me to sometimes asking "what? I don't get what you're saying" (that's an actual line I've used) like three times and this annoys the person I'm talking to and they get snarky with me. :(

Worst of all....I'm scared I'll go mute while on the phone and won't be able to finish the discussion.

This was long I know, and all over the place, sorry about that, I've been feeling so anxious and tense about this....

09-11-16, 03:04 AM
Perhaps do a role-play with your husband beforehand to desensitize you to certain aspects of the experience?

Is it at all possible to tell the other person that you are anxious?



09-11-16, 03:18 AM
Perhaps do a role-play with your husband beforehand to desensitize you to certain aspects of the experience?

Is it at all possible to tell the other person that you are anxious?



I hadn't thought about that, I suppose we could try although the topic of conversation he knows literally nothing I'm not sure how well he could play his part.

But maybe we could try something.

Thanks for the idea. :grouphug:

09-11-16, 04:30 AM
I hadn't thought about that, I suppose we could try although the topic of conversation he knows literally nothing I'm not sure how well he could play his part.

But maybe we could try something.

Thanks for the idea. :grouphug:

Always turn to your best friend first. :)


09-11-16, 10:28 AM
Is it possible to do this via the computer, maybe email? :confused:

I was a wreck this summer trying to get information about used cars in my area.

Most car dealers have web sites where you can ask to chat with a salesman, but when I would ask the price on a certain car, the response was always "Give me a call and we'll talk." ugh

Finally a salesman at a dealership agreed to discuss the car I was interested in via email, and I did ALL the negotiating that way, only going in to test drive the car and then sign the paperwork and write a check. It was awesome.

People are so dependent on their phones and have no empathy for those of us who would rather not talk to a faceless voice that asks us unplanned questions.

09-11-16, 11:31 AM
i have a lot of phone things at work its still hard sometimes!
as i īve said bedore me having an accent gives me the advanpntage of the other person assuming theres a language barrier
of course make sure you've noted everything you need to ask
, and take notes
before you call make sure you've actulally talked already
i mean your own voice might seem rusty and strange to you
if youre starting to not understand something, say so right away ( im'sorry i didnt quite catch that etc)

maybe you could make a few "practice calls" the day before?
for example call a local store and ask when they close, things like that. just to get used to being on the phone.

you can do this :grouphug:

09-11-16, 12:41 PM

Boy, do I have the same problem(s)!

Matter of fact, I probably lost my house in part because I was fearful of making difficult phone calls.

First thing I suggest is taking a small amount of Xanax (or other tranq) before the phone call, IF YOU CAN. This helps reduce the anxiety your body feels (less wear and tear on you) and helps reduce the "mess ups" during the phone call caused strictly by anxiety itself (like dry mouth, dropping the phone, losing the pen, etc)

If you don't have any Xanax (or similar), and are willing to take it, ask your doctor for a small amount for these occasions. Print out your original post for the doc; you did a great job explaining the difficulties your anxiety causes.

Second, grab a blank writing pad and some pens/pencils.

One the first page, freely write down what the phone call is supposed to accomplish. (Appeal benefits you've been denied, enroll your child in special ed classes, get new car insured, etc.)

Then write down what questions are floating in your mind RIGHT NOW. (What happens if the phone call can't be finished, how long will their decision take, etc...)

As the days pass, add to this page, as you think of things.

On a new, clean sheet of paper, write down any pertinent data you think may be important to know during the phone call. (Your SS#, your spouse's SS#, cell phone numbers, doctor's name/phone number, etc) Save that page.

On the day before the phone call, take a clean piece of paper and write down one sentence which describes the purpose of the phone call. (You should have scrambled notes from prior days). Write this purpose at the top.

Draw a line and begin to neatly write out the questions you have come up with.

Leave several lines of space between each. It's okay if you have more than 1 page of questions.

(And these don't necessarily need to be questions you ASK during the phone call.)

When the time for the phone call arrives, (take your xanax 15 mins before, if you're taking any) and make/receive the call.

I usually state somewhere in the beginning that I have a "cognitive disability" (I made that up - it sounds important & no one knows what it means :) and that I need to take notes, so please bear with me. People are always accepting of that; I've never had anyone balk. So its:

"I have a cognitive disability and I need to take notes, so please bear with me."

The response is always "sure/okay/no problem/etc"

As you begin to converse, when you get stuck, write down what they're asking and state it out loud as you do so.

Another thing to do when you get confused is to say, "I'm unsure of that right now; is that something I can get back to you with?"

When they ask if you have questions, look thru your list of questions and ask any you are unclear of the answer to. I've had some people explain things to me in a very vague way, and I just keep asking the question nicely until I understand it. Write down their answer as YOU UNDERSTAND IT, and say out loud what you are writing down. You can even ask "Did I get that right?" They'll re-explain it if you're misunderstanding it.

Once you get off the phone, WRITE DOWN everything you remember. Fill in the answers that were not specifically asked (but they somehow answered).

I know this doesn't cover everything, but I hope it helps somewhat.

09-11-16, 01:28 PM
omg that is brilliant, brilliant advice!!!
Ill definitely be using some of this myself

09-11-16, 09:28 PM
I was impressed by the first bits of advice I read ....( of course I have the same problem with phones really really hate them ) ....and then spamspambacon came along and I swear to kitties, after all the ba-jillions of posts and pieces of advice I have read on this site .....and there have been so many outstanding words written here ....this is the best by far ....simply amazing ......thank you spam !

I'm printing it out and putting in my 'Stuff to Remember" folder !

09-13-16, 12:35 AM
Thank you so much for the outstanding advice everyone! :thankyou:

Wow! I'm truly amazed by these responses! (spamspambacon you deserve some sort of award for that truly brilliant post!)

I will post back here whenever I've made the phone call, it might be this week or next week depends on how some plans go.

You all are awesome, what would I do without you!

09-14-16, 04:11 PM

Hi I'm new to these forums-- I was in denial about having ADHD most of my life but fortunately I recently started receiving help.

I trained as a journalist so I've included some ideas I found helpful for phone conversations which I've found are stressful for everyone but especially tough on people like you and me who have co-morbid anxiety. With anxiety in general, you may have heard of these concepts already, but I found two lines of research and treatment especially useful for treating co-morbid anxiety.

Short Term
1. Lessons on Interviewing/ Phone Skills
2. Intolerance of Uncertainty
3. Problem Solving Therapy

1. Lessons on interviews and phone skills
I went to school to be a journalist. The following resources were helpful to me. Specific interviewing tricks that were useful include: agenda setting, summarizing, reflection, and clarification. You can memorize phrases that work well for you and use them almost verbatim to make sure the conversation goes well.
For example,
Nice to hear from you. I'm looking forward to our conversation. I was hoping to cover (x,y,z) and I think you mentioned you wanted to talk about (x,y,z). Is there anything else that you wanted to touch on?
if you feel stressed, you might say, "just so we're on the same page, let me summarize what we talked about." [read notes out loud while thinking about what you want to say].
To clarify, when you mentioned you wanted me to read over the manuscript, did you want me to edit for grammar and punctuation and skim through it for our next meeting?

a. Clinical Interviewing Tricks that are good for everyone
b. Journalists ( HpG-orGGrE-CuBAr-vAGrEIvrJF-sErrynApr-JEvGrEF%25cS)

2. Intolerance of Uncertainty-
There are a group of researchers in Canada who have studied "intolerance of uncertainty" as a concrete target in the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I find that many therapists focus on inappropriate appraisal of risk; however, introducing new views of uncertainty has not reached the psychology community. Dugas from headed some of these studies
a. Atlantic Article:
b.Sample of how to incorporate into therapy (I didn't find useful, but might help you)
c. Book on how you can use random events to help your life
google "The Black Swan Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable"
d. Free, no-money black jack simulator: helps me become comfortable with uncertainty-- sometimes you lose games you play well, sometimes you win games you play poorly. Important thing is the big picture.

Problem Solving Therapy:
Philadelphia (Drexel) researchers Nezu and Nezu made a remarkable finding that people with strong IQ have different abilities to solve problems. When they did formal research, they found that different attitudes and beliefs about problem solving affected how otherwise similar people were able to solve problems. I'm working on this one right now; I find that the better I get at solving problems, the less worried I become about uncertain events. Maybe this could help you too or at the very least I hope you find it interesting :)
google "Problem-Solving Therapy: A Treatment Manual"

02-23-17, 08:22 PM
I do what I know when your numb all over with pain in my nerves all over