I hate the telephone. I will write at greater length about this at another time, but for now, just understand I despise communicating (or lack thereof) via telephone. It interrupts peoples lives, demanding that they speak with you when YOU want them to, rather than when is convenient for both of you (unlike email and other text-based forms of communication), and it is even harder for me to process verbal communication without visuals (I tend to lip-read). Plus tone of voice is lost over the telephone, and audio quality stinks. Overall telephones are my least favorite mode of communication, and I will admit to having a rather severe case of telephobia.
Sadly, as I am verbal, they are a necessary evil that I have learned to live with, through a combination of hours of misery and at times abuse by my parents (I once had to sit at a table for 6 hours, in full melt-down mode, because I couldn’t pick up the phone and call a store that my parents demanded I find out the hours of, because they considered it “life skills practice”), and just lots and lots and lots of practice, I’ve gotten to a point where I am capable of using the dreaded object as a mode of communication when necessary, and do it fairly well. I’ve NEVER been good on the phone, and I doubt I ever will be, but usually I can communicate what I need to, and vice versa. I’ve come up with scripts and rules that I follow on the telephone. Always be polite. Don’t eat at the same time you’re talking to someone. Don’t interrupt. And most importantly, NEVER hang up on someone who is in the middle of a sentence. ALWAYS finish the conversation. These are good rules and generally help me survive phone conversations.
However there are exceptions. Although I am on the “do not call” list, telemarketers still sometimes find their way into my life, especially in the form of my internet company calling me up at least once every couple of months trying to sell me the “package” of cable and phone (neither of which I have ANY use for at all, and neither of which I am willing to pay for). Every time they call, I freak out because I worry that my bill is wrong or something like that. Then they start on the sales pitch. I interrupt them at first chance (usually a little while, because I can’t tell conversational stop points well, basically ever, but the phone makes it worse), and say “I’m sorry, I’m not interested in”, to which they reply “but what about if I told you…” and I’m stuck again, listening to their sentence, because my brain says “don’t interrupt”. And I feel bad saying “no”, so I get backed into a corner, trying to say “shut up, I don’t care, I’m not going to buy your product” while they’re pushing and being awful. Phone conversations are terrible. And then I feel bad for being rude, because these people must have a very tough job and get yelled at and hung up on all the time. So I feel worse for saying no. They haven’t gotten me to agree to anything, because I know I don’t want their freaking products, but it’s still very frustrating. Every phone conversation is incredibly draining on my resources, and I wish I had the ability to break my final rule and JUST HANG UP ON THEM the minute they call.
Does anyone else have this issue with telemarketers and/or other annoying people who call you up on the phone and won’t take “NO” for an answer or end the conversation? What do you do in this situation? My current social rules just don’t seem to apply…