New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

ADHD in Women

The dreaded phone

Anybody have any suggestions regarding phone calls. Not sure if this is an adhd thing or just me but I absolutely HATE talking on the phone!!! I avoid it like the plague. I screen calls, only answering them if I know it will be quick and painless. This is a problem for my extended family, I think, because we have moved across the country and they wAnt to keep in touch this way. I kind of feel that this is a waste of time (I know it sounds horrible), but when I get on the phone, I can’t concentrate and multitask and do other things. I have three kids, 3,8,10, that keep me busy so I feel sitting and talking on the phone for a half an hour, I can’t spare. I feel so horrible writing this, but I really can’t stand it. I’d rather send a long email at night when I can relax and focus on what I’m saying. Any way to let friends and family in on this?


I loathe the phone too!  Just tell them - they don’t have to like it - they hopefully will respect who you are and at least telling them is being honest

Posted by Beth D on Dec 23, 2013 at 2:11am

right with you… i’m notorious for “missing” calls. for not paying attention to where my phone is, not checking my msgs, etc…

my family isnt very accepting of my apparent lack of phone “urgency”, so i have tried to find a balance… i didnt know until recently that my phone avoidance was adhd related. i working on explaining this to my friends and family in the hope that they will realize it isnt personal…

Posted by deb13 on Dec 23, 2013 at 7:50am

I know how you guys feel. I’m the same way, although I do like to catch up with people, when people call me and i’m in the middle of ‘everything’ I can’t focus.

But when I feel its time to contact people, I set up the ironing board, and put my earpiece in and then I call people. I seem to be able to focus better on the call when I’m ironing and doing something with my hands… weird I know… But it kind of works cos I’m still in touch with people… granted it’s only a once every two month thing…

Posted by jo_demarco on Dec 23, 2013 at 3:16pm


OMG! Starla57, I’m EXACTLY the same way!! I screen calls and only take them if I know they’ll be quick and painless! All this time I thought I was weird. Thank you so much for bringing this up! Part of it, also, in addition to not being able to focus, is the complete inability to gracefully exit from a conversation—so when I pick up the phone, I fear the convo will go on and on and on and on….Another thing is I’m afraid, like, that the other person can “sense” my mood, and I’m afraid to answer the phone because I might be less than 100 percent perky and delighted, and they will think I’m crabby. I’m sure my mother-in-law thinks I’m a bi*ch because I don’t just call up to chat—in fact, I don’t call ANYONE up just to chat. Anyone else out there feel the same way?
Posted by leelee2 on Dec 22, 2013 at 9:34pm

I highly recommend Skype for your calls it will keep your attention better, and they will see just how busy you are.

Posted by Jammie on Dec 22, 2013 at 10:16pm

Yes!  I will do anything to avoid taking or making calls.  My preferred method of communication is email.  I will procrastinate making calls but and feel guilty but I have explained to my family that when I feel depressed or overwhelmed I don’t like to use the phone.  They seem to understand.
For essential calls, I set a time (as early in the day as possible) and force myself to make the call.  This way it doesn’t weigh on me all day long; it’s done and it’s the only thing I have on my list for that day.

Posted by stellarella on Dec 23, 2013 at 2:41am

Posted by adhdmomma on Dec 23, 2013 at 7:44pm

I’ve always hated the phone too.  During the school day or any time I’m not with my kids I’m good about at least keeping track of it in case they have an emergency, The rest of the time I can’t seem to keep track of it.  When I do “screen” it’s usually not personal, but if I don’t know if you can communicate basic information in 5 minutes, then I don’t know if I have time to talk to you.  There are enough distractions in my house. 

Also, I think subconsciously every phone call I answer is an invitation for another distraction (I can barely deal with the ones in my house).  I also get in trouble deleting voicemails about 5 seconds in.

One thing that rightfully bugs me is that with everyone having a cell phone now people expect to be able to reach you 24/7.  My children’s school starts calling emergency contacts if I don’t get back to them within a few minutes.  I spend half the day in the car.  I’m not gonna pull over just to answer the phone.

I love email.  Everyone can communicate when it’s a good time for them, and if you’re exchanging dates and times, etc. there’s less chance for a screw up.

Posted by LucyBic on Dec 24, 2013 at 6:03am

I even prefer automated phone systems to “talking to a human being” and order pizza online.

Posted by LucyBic on Dec 24, 2013 at 6:04am

Get an earpiece for your phone (most cordless phones and cell phones have a jack) and do dishes or exercise or just walk around the house. Also, schedule phone calls with friends and family who want to catch up with you after the kids have been put to bed.

Posted by todd0813 on Dec 24, 2013 at 7:39pm

Oh boy!  This is part of what a therapist told me years ago.  The phone is a distraction.  Worse, it makes noise, which is an interruption.  The even worse part is that somebody is going to be irked when the call is ignored or not returned.  It becomes a “Tyranny of the Urgent” thing and it is such a pain.

I tend to hyperfocus on thing that need to be done and done with accuracy and attention to detail.  I turn my phone to vibrate and if it goes off, I check it quickly, ignore if I feel that is best at the time, or pick the phone up and talk briefly.

I finally had to tell people that I would not take calls during working hours that did not pertain to my work. I actually resorted to using two cell phones and just didn’t answer any call on my personal phone.  I would call back from the business phone saying that I had no signal on my cell and had to get the phone back to its owner. 

After a while, people adjusted their calling habits.  When I am tired at the end of the day, I am more apt to talk on the phone simply because I lack the energy to do much at all.  Just because someone calls does not mean that I have to answer. 

I mean, really?  What did these people do before we had cell phones?

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Dec 24, 2013 at 10:01pm

Wow. This is fascinating. I thought I was the only one.

I’m so glad you brought this up!

I absolutely HATE the telephone. I never call anyone, and they feel put out. I don’t answer or respond to messages.

This is because I have trouble following a conversation, and the sound of talking grates on my nerves. I struggle to process what is being said. Plus, the ringing phone is an intrusion. In general, phones contribute to feelings of overwhelm.

Email is my preferred format for communication. It used to be writing letters, back when people used snail mail to keep in touch. That’s a lost art that would be nice to bring back. Nobody gets “real” letters any more, do they? It’s always from a real estate agent or something, or maybe the dentist’s office.

Posted by sdsea on Dec 24, 2013 at 10:42pm

Wow, thought I was alone with this one.  I have to be in a great mood to answer phone, otherwise I worry the person on the other end will misinterpret my mood and have their feelings hurt.  Have been guilt stricken mymy whole life for this one and people don’t get it.  Thank you for posting this one.

Posted by Katt on Dec 25, 2013 at 1:40am

I try my best to avoid the phone too! U screen calls. On bad days I don’t speak to family either. That is really sad. I just can’t help it.

Posted by journeywomyn on Dec 25, 2013 at 3:13am

Me,  too!!  I always feel like if I answer I’ll never be able to gracefully end the conversation and get off the phone. Then I’m so afraid of awkward silences that I ramble on and on in a completely random fashion, from topic to topic, and hardly let the other person get a word in, even though I don’t even want to be on the phone. I go into a sort of fog while I’m talking, end up saying more than I wanted to about any given subject. The more I don’t want to talk to someone, the more I ramble. When I finally do get off the phone I usually feel stupid for the things I said.

Posted by crystldawn on Dec 26, 2013 at 9:39pm

And I had no idea this was an ADD thing!

Posted by crystldawn on Dec 26, 2013 at 9:40pm

Reading these Posts regarding the PHONE has made me feel semi-normal !!!!

Posted by motivator on Dec 29, 2013 at 3:48pm

Ha! I’m not sure if it IS an add thing or not. All I know is that it is one more distraction that I don’t need (yes I still feel terrible saying this). I know I should feel grateful that people still call me, tho that number of people dwindles every year. I’ve stopped talking to people because if this bad “habit” I’ve been “doing”. Just have a hard time switching gears to talk/chit chat about a lot of mundane/boring everyday issues… Thanks for all your input, glad to know I’m not alone!

Posted by Starla571 on Dec 30, 2013 at 9:45am

I am on the opposite side - although usually with only two or three people. I can talk to my best friend (in another state) for more than an hour, It helps me to get work done around the house. I get more done when I talk to her than if I don’t have a distraction….

Posted by amyhb on Jan 03, 2014 at 6:38am

I have always hated talking on the phone because it takes so much focus and concentration to do it. I would rather text or email. If I have to do it I need to be doing something with my hands just so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time. I’m so glad I’m not alone because I feel like a bad friend sometimes. I move a lot so keeping up by phone is essential for some of the friends I want to stay in touch with. I ignore/screen 99%of my calls…
Be honest with your friends and family, and do the work with other modes of communication. The end result is what’s important, not just how you get there!

Posted by Savvyadhdsista on Jan 03, 2014 at 9:25am

wow!! feels so good reading this! I have been recently diagnosed with ADHD, and still learning about ways to deal with it. Ive lost many relationships because it was painful to stay in touch. And I simply find it difficult to hang up when people go on and on. So i avoid calls…making or taking them. Also I am pretty scared about blurting out some nonsense that makes the other person go quiet..its just simpler to avoid people. Now i know what it is and am so glad to know this is only part of this condition, at least I can deal with it .
These days apart from phone calls and msgs…the new horror is apps like whats app etc. for my work i need to be involved with some groups… but there are some 30 msgs on each group every single day…i simply cannot keep up!

Posted by Sky on Jan 03, 2014 at 5:27pm

I avoid the phone also!! My twin sister is the same way. I think it has something to do with ADD. I stumble over my words in general, but when I get on the phone it’s 10x worse and things just get awkward. If someone calls I’ll ignore it and send them a text or email. It’s sooo bad, but it’s something I have to work on.

Posted by _ashlynnicole on Jan 05, 2014 at 9:17pm

And here I thought I was bad for feeling the same thing. I’ve always disliked talking on the phone. Especially if I’m in the middle of something like playing a video game (I know, I know). After working all day and *having* to talk to people, I just like to be left alone with a game for awhile, but I always feel guilty not answering right away or putting it off.

I especially don’t like calling people that I don’t know or where multiple people could answer (like a household). I get a lot of anxiety because I don’t know who’s going to answer and I never recognize anyone’s voice (aside from my parents, wife, best friend) or worse that they won’t recognize mine!

Seeing this did make me feel a little more normal about it though. At least I know I don’t have another phobia or something…

Posted by madlyinanger37 on Jan 09, 2014 at 7:09pm

Hi. I just registered yesterday, but this thread caught my eye.  I rarely answer my home phone, and most people know that.  What I cannot bring myself to do is listen to and clean out messages. 90% of them are organizations begging money.  Every time I clean it out, I promise myself I won’t let it get bad again.  Nope.  My cell phone is just as bad.  :-(

Posted by OhSewCountry on Jan 12, 2014 at 9:34pm

I despise it, I have to be in the mood to talk to someone or deal with something espesh if they/it is not right in front of me so that I cant avoid it.. I screw up though it always puts me missing a teacher conference or appointment and I regret it later…...

Posted by jcmarketdesign on Jan 15, 2014 at 7:18am

I’m a call center assistant, so I’m on the phone for 40 hours during the week! Yet in my personal life, I hate answering calls or calling someone!

I’ll have a full conversation with people through text or e- mail! I still get into trouble with my commits texting or e-mailing but I’m more at ease with the two!

Posted by Jjingram on Jan 23, 2014 at 2:23pm

I don’t like the phone either, lol. Partly due to my speech, and partly due to my allergies. I have a speech issue and people can be quite rude about it. As for the allergy part, I have year round allergies, and probably have fluid in my middle ear, which makes it very hard to hear , especially of the person is speaking softly.i also shun those automated voicemail things….. Why can’t there be a human on the other end instead of a machine???

Posted by Lilapsophile on Jan 31, 2014 at 8:37pm

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions