ADHD Communication Challenges
Communication can be challenging for individuals with ADHD. They may:
- Interrupt frequently
- Talk too much
- Jump from topic to topic
- Speak too rapidly
- Become distracted during a conversation and miss important elements
This can be due to the fact that people with ADHD often struggle with executive function issues. Our executive functioning helps us organize and prioritize the information we encounter in everyday life. It also helps direct our attention and keeps us focused. These skills are necessary to staying engaged in the middle of a fast-paced conversation.
Strategies for Better Conversations
If you find communicating effectively difficult, here are some recommendations from experts that can help.
Practice – Practice having a conversation with someone you trust – a good friend or relative who cares and understands you and your ADHD. Practice talking about different topics, and ask for honest feedback.
Observe – Watch other people’s pacing Notice how each person pauses, giving the other person time to participate.
Become aware of your communication behavior – Count how many times you interrupt another person in a normal conversation. Set a goal not to do it more than a certain number of times. If you feel like you’re overwhelmed during a conversation, try breathe in slowly and fully exhale. Mentally rehearse not interrupting. If you catch yourself interrupting, admit it and say, “I’m sorry to interrupt. What were you going to say?”
Make eye contact – This can keep you focused on the discussion and help you read nonverbal communication cues like facial expressions. If making eye contact feels difficult, try watching the other person’s mouth. The more senses you involve, the easier it is to attend and stay connected.
Change your environment – Try to have conversations in quiet places that are free of distractions. ADHD can make you hypersensitive to noise and other distractions in the environment. This makes it tough to focus on what people are saying to you.
Take your time – If you’re talking too fast, slow down. Make your points clearly and concisely, then be quiet and listen.
Demonstrate good listening – Participate with reflective statements that show you’re listening. Show genuine curiosity about others’ experiences – ask questions and avoid making any judgments.
Don’t forget your medication – If you use ADHD medication, remember to take your dose before starting an important conversation.
Good communication is something we can all improve on throughout our lives. If you have ADHD, it may take additional work before you feel comfortable with conversation, but it can be done. Being able to connect with others and navigate social situations with greater confidence can improve your relationships and quality of life.