Frequently I will hear the above question from my clients. My clients are kind, considerate, and generally pretty good communicators. But, unfortunately, a lot of times, people shy away from engaging in conversations with them. Why?
When digging deeper, here are some common threads:
They are close-talkers. One of the challenges with ADHD is the lack of correctly interpreting social cues. Standing too close to someone may come off as a threat. Others’ personal space boundaries may be quite different than your own. Be aware if people start to back away and give them some space.
They talk really, really fast. Sometimes there are too many words in an ADHD brain. Instead of slowing down, individuals with ADHD want to get all of the words out right now! Communicating in this way can be a challenge for people who think or talk a bit more slowly. Be aware if people start to glaze over and not participate in the conversation.
They talk really, really loud. Excitement gets the better of all of us at times. When we are excited, we may speak in a loud tone that may be perceived as yelling and threatening. Be aware if people appear startled or show discomfort.
They interrupt the conversation. Sometimes, impulsivity gets the best of an ADHD brain, resulting in interruptions or comments made out of context. Be aware if people appear frustrated or confused during conversations.
They go off-topic. Concise story-telling can be a challenge for individuals with ADHD. “I took my grandson to the zoo, and we saw a giraffe” may be the story that is meant to be told. However, an ADHD brain may bring in extraneous information not pertinent to the conversation, making a 30-second story into a five-minute monologue. Be aware if people begin to lose interest and start looking past you.
They forget what others have said. Sometimes an individual with ADHD will focus on what they want to say that they don’t remember what others have said. This can come off as uncaring and rude. Take notes, either before or during the conversation, so you can focus on what’s being said at the moment.
What, if any, of these scenarios ring true for you?
One of my favorite communication quotes (frequently attributed to George Bernard Shaw) is:
“The single biggest problem in communication is the
illusion that it has taken place.”
What can you do to improve your communication style so people will want to communicate with you?
Cindy Jobs, PCAC, ACC
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