I am not good with phones. Never have been, and likely never will be.
Part of this is due to my severe hearing impairment, which makes spoken communication difficult at the best of times.
Part of this is due to my severe social anxiety, which makes interpersonal communication difficult at the best of times.
Part of this is due to complex PTSD, which makes me hypersensitive to disturbances in my environment at the best of times.
Between background noise, poor connections, the lack of non-verbal cues and the fact that the phone can ring literally whenever regardless of what I'm doing, phone calls are never the best of any of these times.
Whenever I try to communicate this difficulty with people who regularly call me, I end up with one of two results:
- My concerns are brushed off as inconsequential. Either they downplay how much of a problem this actually is for me, or they act as if this is something I'll eventually get over with practice. Either way, the phone calls continue.
- My concerns are treated seriously, in which case the calling party stops calling me for any reason ever, effectively cutting off all communication entirely.
These are people that I want to maintain a healthy relationship with, especially friends and family. Neither of these results are acceptable outcomes for me, and while the latter is far preferable to the former it's also a significant contributing factor in my constant fights against depression.
It's not even talking to them on the phone that's the problem, it's just the fact that talking to them on the phone is extremely draining for me. All I want is for people to respect and understand that, but this is so apparently outside of other peoples experience I seem unable to communicate it effectively without it coming off as an unreasonable overreaction to something that is so obviously trivial for others to deal with.
How can I best communicate this issue with people without alienating them? I don't want special treatment here: I appreciate that many of my acquaintances are more comfortable using the phone than alternatives like text or e-mail. I don't begrudge them for calling me for important issues or even just to socialize. But constantly having to deal with phone calls for trivial things is extremely stressful to the point that I'm seriously considering either blocking certain people or cutting off my phone service entirely just to avoid them.