Close up of a hand holding a phone so as to see who is calling unexpectedly.Close up of a hand holding a phone so as to see who is calling unexpectedly.

Dealing with unexpected phone calls

A phone call interrupting your flow is annoying. But what if it’s a really important call and you’re not ready for it?

I knew there was an important phone call coming that afternoon.

It was a while back. I had booked a call with my GP to ask for an autism assessment. I had accepted for some time that I was autistic but I chose to validate my self-diagnosis.

I’d done all the prep work leading up to the day. My thoughts were clear and I’d jotted down a few bullet points to make sure I remembered to cover them.

I was having difficulty concentrating on anything meaningful that morning. You hear so many stories of how difficult it is to receive an NHS autism assessment.

I took myself off to the garden cabin. A quiet place where I could find some calm and be clear of mind for the afternoon’s phone call.

At 10am my mobile rang. I saw it was the GP. My anxiety went through the roof. In half a second I had gone through all the arguments about taking the call now when I wasn’t ready or leaving it and hoping he’d phone back later as planned. What should I do?

I took the call.

The first thing I blurted out was that I hadn’t expected the call for a few hours yet and that I I needed a minute to get my head straight. My breathing was fast and my voice was unsteady.

My GP said it was OK and to take a minute. Every second was dragging painfully as I tried to get my head together, find my notebook and I walked in circles to try and dump the adrenaline.

After what seemed like forever, but was probably only 30 seconds, I felt it was time to talk.

I wasn’t my best through the call. Maybe in some kind of serendipitous way that helped me get my referral.

Reflecting afterwards I spotted that when I asked for time to get my head together my GP was OK with that. Would that be the case in similar occasions?

I practiced this in other phone calls that came unexpectedly.

Guess what? People were happy to wait a minute. They wanted to talk to me, they had me on the phone. Waiting a minute was better for them than having to try again later.

So, next time you’re flustered by an interruption try asking the interrupter to wait a minute while you put aside what you were doing and gather your thoughts. It takes a whole lot of stress out of the situation.

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