Ring. Ring. Most people accept that sound as a normal daily occurrence, pick up the phone and carry on a conversation with a friend, relative, doctor’s office or whatnot. The only time they get annoyed is if the phone rings during a meal or if there’s a robot on the other end asking you to hire him/her/it to clean your carpet.
Unlike some people who have a bad reaction to spoiled food, certain medications, relatives who annoy them or incessantly barking dogs, I get annoyed to the bone when the phone rings and worse, if that call is for me: I have an immediate adverse reaction. Not because I don’t love my family and friends, but because my ADD makes it hard to stay connected on the phone… and I get totally frustrated. You too?
It makes sense that this might be difficult if you have ADD. Here’s why:
- Hate to be interrupted when we are in hyper focus mode, having to stop whatever interesting activity we were doing before the phone rang.
- Hate to be interrupted when we’re not in hyper focus, having finally forced ourselves to get something done, like paying overdue bills. Getting de-railed by a phone call at times like that is like being thrown in front of a train.
- Abhor small talk. As we hear chit chat about this’n that, our brains are already miles ahead, waiting impatiently for the story to end to save us from all the details. Little do our callers know that we’re yessing and “mmmhmming” to disguise the fact that we’re thinking up an invention, planning a vacation or just floating away in our heads to somewhere much more interesting and exotic than a play by play of Aunt Gussie’s recent cataract operation.
- Interrupt out of fear of forgetting what we want to say. Then, we look rude. And feel bad.
- Can’t filter out extraneous sounds, like the cat’s belly growling from hunger. Or the faucet dripping two floors away, making it hard and frustrating to concentrate on the call. Of course, no one else can hear such things- only us.
- Struggle to hear the words on the other end when there are no visual cues (can’t see the mouth, so can’t hear the words). And God forbid if the poor soul has an accent. That, for me, anyway, makes it nearly impossible to stay connected.
How about you? Do your jaw muscles tense up when the phone rings? How do you manage when someone you care about calls? How do you stop yourself from mentally checking out?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Wow, you’ve just described my phone interaction to a T. I have always wondered why I have such a visceral reaction to the phone ringing – now I know! I just discovered your website and blog and will be visiting often!
I couldn’t have said it any better if I said it myself. It is so hard explaining to people that you simply HATE the phone. The rining sends a pain shooting up from the base of my spine to my brain. Recently my phone service from cable got screwed up. I have let it go without a house phone now for 2.5 months to spare myself the pain of the ringing. The kids have cell phones and for necessity so do I although I just recently changed carriers and numbers and the only people who have my new number are my boyfriend and my children. I would love to keep it that way.
I also recognize this problem only too well. My dislike of the phone varies directly with my mood, too: The more anxious or depressed I am, the more intolerant I become of the phone. It always seems to ring the most when I’m trying to pull myself together and reduce my stress through silence.
Exactly! I’m forwarding to a friend who doesn’t understand why I don’t have long phone calls with her. Once again, you have perfectly explained what I haven’t been able to. I don’t know how you get into my brain, LOL, but I love it!!
It drives people nuts that I let my phone ring and don’t answer it. I read a tip once in a biz mgmt book that said to let the phone go to voicemail because you know what you’re doing at that moment and unless you’re waiting on a specific call, the unknown incoming call isn’t more important than what you’re working on. This is true, but for us ADDers, there is SO much more to it and you said it wonderfully!
I’ve always hated the phone. Too many outside distractions make it difficult to hear what is being said. The other reason I hate it has to do with once distracted I forget what the conversation is about, what I’ve said. Text messaging has been the most wonderful invention. No more forgetting what the topic is about after being interrupted. Even interruptions aren’t as upsetting for me and the other person involved is more understanding. Only problem is it’s easier to forget you are involved in a conversation. Can’t count how many times I’ve been in the middle of a text conversation and forgotten completely that I was only to find a half written texts days later.
I would MUCH rather text than talk on the phone. It takes SO MUCH EFFORT to try and focus on what the other person is saying, and like you said, especially if the caller is going on and on with what I consider mundane details, get to the point already! And I have the worst time ending calls, I wish it was acceptable to just say, “okay, my brain is shutting down, bye”…I find it tortuous to try and figure out when things are wrapped up enough to say goodbye. I’ve always thought something was wrong with me, not I know, its just another ADHD thing. Thank you!!
Before I was diagnosed with ADHD i just thought I was one of those people who didn’t like the phone – nothing more or less – I even worked my dislike of the phone into my career – coaching myself and others that phone and email communications should be brief and anything requiring more than 2 minutes of interaction should be done in person!
As I read this now, I chuckled – I still hate the phone and having to pick it up to schedule meetings and such still takes a certain amount of gearing up for me. My favorite is when my phone rings and my significant other says “…babe your phone is ringing…” – I usually respond “…I know…” – he is always bewildered – at least now he looks to see who it is and if it is parents he at least gives them the time of day to say hello (BTW – I do call back!)
Having generalized anxiety already, I hate calling people, as I don’t remember everything I wanted to say or the order I wanted to say it in. I actually have to make notes sometimes if I have several things to say. I prefer email, as I can gather my thoughts and be coherent.
Back when we used to get telemarketers calling all day and especially at dinnertime, I got in the habit of never answering until I knew who it was. I still do that. The one time a year I answer without knowing who it is, it ends up being the Firefighters Association, and I can’t say no to them!
I hate making phone calls, unless I’m in just the right frame of mind, which doesn’t happen often. It’s hard to make myself understood, especially when I’m asking some drone for something more complicated than their script can handle. (Once when I asked to cancel 2 bank accounts during one phone call, a wrong account got cancelled, causing some pretty awful repercussions.) Even asking for an appointment can be complicated; I often jump ahead too far (like telling a receptionist more than he/she needs to know instead of waiting for the person I need to talk with. Or I’ll get scattered and sound like an idiot. (That’s my big fear, being perceived as an idiot.) I’ll sometimes forget the most simple things, like when a hotel reservation is from Monday to Friday, that’s for 4 nights, not 5, and get someone really frustrated. It’s hard!!
Until I read your article I thought I was just the rudest person in the world, as I had never connected my phone aversion to the ADHD. It has always been a problem but seems worse now that we have cell phones. Everyone else carries is on their hip and answers before the second ring. Often they expect the same of everyone else, and I hate it. I refuse, and so I participate on a modified agenda whenever possible. At least now I understand why. Great article as always!
I feel like “What fresh hell is this?” or “Where am I supposed to be?” or “What did I forget to do” or “Will this be extra work for me” – all the possible things that can come with a phone call.
Amen on the fresh hell thing! Cell phone ring = you forgot something…
Now I know why! I always wondered. I thought it might be fear or shyness but I think I have overcome those. Thanks for making it clear.
I so appreciated these comments. I have never associated my phone phobia – which is strongest when I’m “done” for the day after six or seven- with ADD. Usually I get viscerally angry when the phone rings later in the day and wonder “Why are they bothering me/us? How dare they?” I generally don’t notice the hyperfocus as an issue but am always wondering “what fresh Hell…” (love that) It feels like I have no energy for anyone else.Thanks all.
Seeing this story then reading the comments…I can so relate. I have never been dx’d with ADD, but I can check off so many boxes in diagnostic criteria. I work with families of kids with disabilities and parents themselves that have challenges. I am on the phone all day with families. I get phone calls from parents that want to chat for an hour about their child and I lose focus after 10 minutes. I just can’t process information past that. I find taking notes during a phone helps me to stay on task and keeps me from wanting to blurt before I forget what I want to say so as not to interrupt when they are on a roll. I am extremely overstimulated after a call. At home, I cringe when the phone rings and get extremely irritated. A squishy fidget also helps me stay on task when i am public speaking.
I have disliked phones for many, many years. I’ve never liked being interrupted to answer a ringing phone when I’m doing something else interesting–which is 95% of the time. What I dread even MORE is making phone calls. I can easily procrastinate for days and days when I need to make even simple calls. My extreme reluctance to make phone calls has always puzzled me because I know I’m not a simpleton. I have two college degrees, and I generally enjoy challenges. Years ago when we had only rotary dial phones, it was even worse to get motivated to make a phone call because it took so much time just to get the phone number dialed. so I got exasperated before the phone even began ringing. I do think my “phone issues” crop up due to ADD because I dread making phone calls even with push button numbers on the phone. My solution is making those dreaded calls first thing in the morning. I can breathe easier and concentrate on more interesting tasks AFTER I get those pesky phone calls off my To Do List. It is a relief to read on this website that others with ADD have the same issues, and that I’m not just “strange” in regard to using phones.
This is me. Thank you so much for explaining it so well. I can forward this to people I have been telling this to for years. 🙂
This fits my daughters and me to a “T”. I don’t mind terribly if someone calls me (if its a good friend that I’ve been meaning to call for over a year) but I especially hate making calls. My husband (second marriage – this time a good one) always teases us because when any of us do make a call and someone answers, we cut right to the chase – i.e. “Hi, are you busy Friday afternoon, I need someone to . . .” and then “OK, bye” – no small talk at all. I try to make small talk sometimes but I never hear anything the other person is saying because, like others, I’m afraid I’ll forget why I called them. No wonder I don’t feel like I have friends.
Thanks, that’s exactly how I feel! Unfortunatly I have many phone meetings in my job. Does anyone have any tips on how to stay focused and not interupting in phone meetings?
So grateful to finally understand why I am like this. Always thought I was the only person in the world that goes cold when the phone rings. I’ve tried to explain to friends and family, but it seems beyond all of them that I don’t just want to drop everything to ‘chat’ or catch up. Can barely understand what they on about as I can’t focus on just a voice and no visual cues to what they ‘chatting’ about. Just summarize and send a message please! Sigh. So stressful. Thanks for the great article. Feeling relieved that I’m not alone in this as I’ve never met anyone else with the same issue.
I had a nightmare job working in Customer Service (phone calls all day long) for a company that manufactured ink jet machines. They made the equipment that printed the letters on M & M candies, Eggland’s Best Eggs, etc. I dealt mostly with men on the West Coast and hated every waking day of this job! Since that time I usually correspond face to face, by email or text messages!
Oh my- I wouldn’t have lasted one day at that job!