As an introvert, I’ve always dislike hearing the phone ring, but it’s gotten worse in the pass year and the reason is chronic illness. Let me explain why…
When you’re on the phone, you don’t get any of the non-verbal cues that come with face-to-face conversation. You’ve probably heard that communication experts agree that most of communication is non-verbal. Therefore, when you remove all those verbal cues, your brain has to work harder to comprehend what’s being said. When you are dealing with chronic illness, you often have something called mind fog. This means that our foggy brains may not be able to muster that level of focus.
When you do have to use the phone, I try to eliminate all the distractions I can. When I can, I go into a quiet room and shut the door. I’ve heard that even turn out the light can help. If I need to relay specific information, I always make notes ahead of time and keep them with you. To help myself remember information, I take notes as I am talking. That prevents frustrations like making a doctor’s appointment or plans with a friend and then forgetting the details the moment you hang up.
If you have problems communicating via telephone like me, it can help to let the people who speak with frequently know about it. Let them know that when you ask them to repeat something, it’s not because you were ignoring them. I encourage all my friends and family to send you texts or emails instead of calling. Of course that doesn’t work with everyone. My mom text me “Call me please”, which is not really getting the point. 😛
It might be worth exploring Facetime or Skype, especially for long distance calls or conversations you expect to be lengthy.
If you have to use the phone as part of your job, you may be able to request reasonable accommodation from your employer. I’ve done this and it helps a lot. That may include things like hands-free devices or requests for instructions to be delivered in writing rather than over the phone.