Phone calls: Not as simple as they seem

Just over a month ago, I commented on a Facebook post. Since then, every couple of days, I get a new notification which relates to that comment. That tells me that either people appreciated learning something new or people can relate to it. So, I thought that it might be worthwhile discussing it here.

The post had something to do with the almost impossible task of making phone calls. Many, many, many people (far too many) commented on the post saying “What’s the big deal? You just pick up the phone, dial the number and talk to the person who answers.”

My irritation about that attitude actually inspired this post.

So, what is the big deal really? If it’s only those three steps, why is it almost impossible to make a phone call? It’s because there are a lot more than three steps to making a phone call.

This is my process:

  1. Create script to use to talk to the person so that I don’t um and ah my way through the conversation.
  2. The script needs to include appropriate responses for each question they might ask.
  3. Get the number.
  4. Dial the number.
  5. Follow the script and hoping to all goodness that the person responds in the way my script was constructed.

There are additional steps if I’m phoning to make an appointment. If it’s a call centre that requires me to select a number for each category, that may take more than one phone call. I struggle to figure out which number relates to my query. I also struggle to remember which number relates to which category if I listen to all of them. There are also additional sub-steps to each of those five steps above as well – those are just the basic steps.

In addition to those steps, I don’t enjoy talking on the phone in general. Disembodied voices don’t work that well for me due to auditory processing things.

It’s also worth noting that I used to work in recruitment which is a very phone intensive role. How did I manage to do that? Every single phone conversation requires a prepared script. There are counters for each objection that I could memorise and refer to as needed. And, in addition to that, I never was a very good recruitment consultant. I was fairly average, but average in an industry that has a very high staff turnover can often be good enough.

There are some (probably two!) people that I can comfortably talk to on the phone without following that arduous process, but for the most part, this is the process that I have to follow.

Does the difficulty that I experience when making phone calls impact on my life? You bet it does. I have a list of calls that I need to make. I always have a list, and I maybe get to remove one from the list each week. Once one call has been made, I’m often too overwhelmed to make another, so that means things can take some time to get sorted out.

To avoid this, I often select service providers and things to do based on the availability of email communication. Email is simpler for me. It’s really just three steps – find email address, type email, hit send. That I can do, but don’t ask me to make a phone call, and don’t tell me to just suck it up and do it. I know it has to be done, I will get it done, but it will take some time – and I’m ok with that.