I've been analyzing the reasons why I detest phone calls and trying to put it to words. I can probably sum up the overwhelming feelings in one word, uncertainty. I live in a very visual world. Even though I cannot read emotion on others faces, at times, I can certainly tell when a conversation is over when someone walks away.
Each person has a different "normal" tone of voice. Some people sound harsh, rude, off put, as a rule. In person, I can judge body language and a persons overall demeanor with greater accuracy. When I'm on the phone, some voices make me think I'm intruding and they can't wait to get off the phone with me.
As a good Aspie, I try and anticipate every single human interaction. I play and replay all possible scenarios so I won't be caught off guard. In a phone call, I'm confused and anxious because I have no idea what will be said, so my brain goes on hyper overdrive guessing at which questions or statements will be next. I have a verbal processing delay...I need time to think and formulate my answers from the jumble of words in my head. Sometimes, in these unpleasant pauses, something new is said, as I'm desperately trying to formulate the answers to inquiry #1, the party on the other end has thrown out inquiry #2. Now I am boggled, frustrated, lagging behind in the conversation, I look like an idiot and I can't catch up, having lost my original response to inquiry #1.
I have no way of telling the mood of the caller. Are they upset with me? Or simply having a bad day? If they are a receptionist or secretary...am I catching them at a bad time? Are they behind in their work with a line up of people at their desk? Are they sick and not feeling well? Or are my responses setting them off? Or wrong?
Can they understand what I'm saying? Do they get my point, even though I'm using choppy, unprepared words that do not flow? Are they paying attention? Or distracted by playing games on their computer?
There are dozens of questions, which I cannot answer on the phone.
Whilst I try and make all appointments and get questions answered in person, on occassion I do have to make phone calls. I thoroughly prepare myself. I write notes regarding exactly what I want to say. I spend time writing possible responses based on the possibility of questions they might ask. I make note of the best times to call based on office hours and busy times. I write, look up and rewrite the actual phone number that I need to call, to make sure it is correct. I gather a notepad, working pen and glass of water, then compose myself, rehearse my lines and methodically push button, slowly and carefully (I don't want to call the wrong number) the number and anxiously wait.
I'm varying degrees of nervous, as I talk. The more familiar I am with the disembodied voice on the other end, the easier it is to talk. I take copious notes to keep up with what's being said. I try and write, decipher the important points of the conversation that I need to remember, in addition to some awesome, frantic doodles during pauses or waiting times.
Another stressful consideration....I watch people's lips move during conversation, because I'm never sure when they are finished making their statement and when it is my turn to speak. This is huge. On the phone I have no way of knowing when it's "my turn" or when I'm interrupting because I cannot see lips move or their head turn indicating they are done speaking and awaiting my response. I Have No Sense of Timing during phone conversations. I feel so awkward, displaced and out-of-sync.
I'm not sure if my answer to a question was received properly or if they were looking for more or different information.
Aaaarrrggggghhhhh, I get frustrated even attempting to write out All the varied reasons I avoid phone calls and their adverse effects on my psyche.
Aspies have serious struggles with phone calls! I hope that I have been able to provide some of the reasons phone calls are so stressful.
Please feel free to add any additional reasons in the comments!