10 Tips in Placing Telephone Calls with Brain Injury

28 Jan

10 tips and highlights to handle telephone calls without distraction and keep focused for those with brain injuries, brain dysfunction, and other chronic illnesses.

So many types of telephones.

Everyone is familiar with the telephone for communication at work, at home or more commonly everywhere one goes with their cell phone.  It seems like few people are without a cell  phone.  Obviously, it is convenient but it is a distraction and can end in injury if not used cautiously.  Never drive while talking on the telephone.  Do not answer the telephone while driving either.

Forgetting to turn back on your telephone, isn't always bad! Free from distractions by accident.

Place your cell phone out of your reach such as in the trunk or backseat.  It’s easy enough to turn it off, but then you may not remember to turn it back on again.  Ideally, if you can turn it off that is best.  I find that a couple days later people will tell me they cannot reach me, only to find that my telephone is still turned off.  I expect this occurs frequently with brain injuries.  Find a way that works best for you and keep you and everyone around you safe as well.  It is better to have a turned off telephone then trying to reach in the back seat for the telephone.  The options are numerous, but find a comfortable fit for you and stick with it.  If turning off the telephone works most of the time, do so.  You need to turn them off nearly everywhere you go in the office environment.  So, if you forget to turn it back on…you’ll remember when you go to place your next call.  In the meantime, you’ll be free from other calls and that could be a good things at times.  See, forgetting isn’t always bad!

Daily business and personal calls can be overwhelming and distracting, especially with a brain injury.   There are many circumstances and conditions that this happens with so do not feel alone in dealing this.  Either turn off the telephone during nap time, or rest in a room without the distraction of a telephone or any other distractions.  Your rest/sleep is paramount to brain recovery.  Sleep is the only time your brain can recover and repair itself, so be kind to yourself and get your rest.

Best way to handle telephone calls and keep focused!

  1. Have a notebook and pen on hand when placing the call.
  2. Write down the number you are calling and the person you need to talk with or are speaking to.  Make note of the time you are calling as well.
  3. Jot down notes what you want to say or ask before placing your call.  Make an outline or write total sentences, however you feel you can best get through the conversation. This process will become routine if you do it every single time you place a call.  Soon you will really sound like you have it altogether!
  4. Find a quiet place.  If at home and you have other people living in your household put a “Please do not disturb” sign on the door…or do this at work.  Others do not realize that the simplest disruption causes you to loose your train of thought and that will only increase your frustration level and inability to function effectively, hence interrupting your effective communication. This may also make one become “Not a very nice person!”…and that can last for the entire day.

    Find a place free from distractions.

  5. Place business telephone calls preferably Tuesday thru Friday morning. Mondays are very busy especially if you are calling a doctors office.  Always call the doctors office if  it is urgent, but if you are making an appointment try another day or time.  I have found Mondays busy in almost every realm of business.  If it must be a Monday, call in the afternoon…unless it’s an urgent matter.  Expect to be on hold for long periods of time on a Monday morning.  Find something simple to do while you are on hold; such as cleaning your glasses or computer screen.  But be cautious, because you do not want to do anything that is distracting that you might forget you are on a telephone call.  This certainly varies from person to person.  One needs to be in touch with their limitations.  If it is too much for you today, try tomorrow…it will be a better day.  Being on hold frequently increases your frustration and you will find yourself hanging up.  Try to avoid hanging up, because you’ll just be at the end of the line if you call back and will need to hang on hold even longer.
  6. Hard to follow prompts?  Are you tired of getting a list of things and they tell you to press #1, then another list of things and press #3, then another list of people and press #5.  All you want to do is talk to a person.  You can not follow with such a list of instructions.  Your frustration level is building again.  Stop and try this:  it works 95% of the time.  Just press “0” (zero).  Usually that takes you to an operator or at least some human being that can help you.  Alleviate all the other prompts if at all possible. This does not always work, but practice and see when it does work.  You will surprise yourself.  By time you listen and finish with all the other prompts, you have used up all the mental energy you had for the entire day.  It’s sad, and yet  everyone wants to know what you did all day?…. and you won’t have a very nice response to that either!

    It's easy to become overwhelmed & frustrated.

    Try pressing Zero "0" to get a human being on the line!

  7. Tell the person you are speaking to that you may need a little extra time so you do not feel rushed.  This usually helps with their patience dealing with you and your limitations. Let them know when you are having difficulty understanding what they are saying.   Ask them to speak slowly and repeat what they said as often as necessary until you have clearly understood what you need to.  If you need to tell them you have a brain injury, do so.  They may not understand, but it usually helps.
  8. If you are still having difficulty following through with telephone calls recruit someone to help you until you can do this on your own.  Or you might just need to ask for assistance on a rare occasion…but do that, ask someone for help.  Always try on your own and let the person that you want to assist you aware of why you seem to be having difficulties.  They will most likely help you over this hump, and you’ll be able to learn and move on.  You might need to repeat the process over and over again before you are able to accomplish the task.  That is okay, but you will get there.
  9. Use a headset or ear pieceto hold your conversations.  This helps keep focus, but also keeps the muscles relaxed in the neck and you don’t want muscle spasms, stiff neck or headache so using a headset is beneficial for many reasons.

    Use a Headset or Ear Piece.

  10. Remember to call those that help you most and give them a simple “ThankYou”.  Always share your gratitude.

    Share your gratitude!

Make the most of your telephone calls.  Since you have notes of who you called, what number you dialed, the time and date of your telephone call and the content of your conversation you will soon look as though you have it altogether!, especially if you have to recall something or someone you spoke with.  Just pull out your notebook and you have everything at your hands … it doesn’t all have to be stored in your memory!  What do you think they made pen and paper for?

Be Aware & Keep Yourself Safe.

Always stay safe and do not drive while talking on the telephone.  Walking around with your telephone also causes distractions and can leave yourself open to being a victim…so prevent this by always being aware of your surroundings. Do NoT Walk and TaLK.  

Have you ever tried to place a telephone call with the remote from your television?  Or tried to turn on the television with your telephone?  If you have you are not alone!  And others are wondering why you have not returned their telephone calls!   It will most likely happen many times, but after a while you just don’t take it too seriously.  Laugh about how silly it is rather then get frustrated and cry, and think about how many people don’t understand you unless they truly have a brain injury! I solved that by using the huge (12″ x 6″) remote control for the television.  Even the huge remote control will bring conversation and laughs with those visiting.  They have no idea how difficult life can be with the ordinary daily things.

Cry a litte, Laugh a lot!

Whatever you do, keep it simple and cry a little but laugh a lot.


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7 responses to “10 Tips in Placing Telephone Calls with Brain Injury

  1. Barb

    January 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    These are tips everyone could benefit from. I had a lady who I was taking a phone reservation for state at the beginning of the conversation that she had a concussion so she might be a little out of it. As I read Broken Brain Brilliant Mind, I mentioned a few things during the course of the call. At one point, she told me that it was actually a brain injury she had some time back. I don’t know why she felt a need to tell me anything at the onset as she was sharp and there was no communication difficulty between us. We really connected too. I can see where there may be times to tell someone but if things are going well, I don’t see the need. If a person just had a concussion, it might be important.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      January 29, 2012 at 8:45 am

      Great comment! If one’s problems are resolved with the communication aspect of TBI there is no need to say anything. Word-finding difficulties are frequently ongoing as well as open-ended questions and these can generate an entire new problem with communication. Since these issues are unpredictable for those individuals it may benefit to say so in case they cannot get through the conversation. If they are successful they will feel as though they have accomplished something that day! Effective communication is a two way street and it sounds like you understand, are educated with TBI, a good listener, and very helpful. Wish we had more people like you. Since TBI symptoms and communication are usually unpredictable there are intermittently normal spontaneous conversations. Spontaneous conversations are often easier then thought provoking conversations. Mild, moderate and severe TBI has such a range, that everything needs to be individualized. The simple things in life seem so complicated but it does get better. Sometimes it’s just trying to find what works best in life for that individual and family and the adjustment process.

      • Barb

        January 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm

        I was a Speech Pathology major for a time so I have some understanding. It makes me feel good when I can connect with a person. It was obvious that this woman was very intelligent and it must have been frustrating for her when she did have lapses, which never happened during our conversation.

      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        February 1, 2012 at 11:43 am

        You have an excellent background that helps understand communication issues with traumatic brain injury. I wish we had more education regarding TBI and all the issues surrounding it. Educating healthcare professionals is the place to start. It’s amazing how few understand anything about TBI, and that leaves all patients at risk for misdiagnosis and other health related issues.

      • Barb

        February 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

        I have also gained a lot by reading blogs on TBI. In so many areas, many in the mental health and medical fields need more education on TBI and other hidden handicaps.

      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        February 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

        I agree. If only everyone would read and educate themselves this world would be a healthier place.

  2. Kimberly Flickinger (@kaflickinger74)

    January 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Excellent tips!


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