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Communication Hacks for ADHD

What is Adult ADHD

A mental health condition exhibited by difficulty maintaining attention. Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that can lead to unstable relationships, poor work performance, & low self-esteem.

Adult ADHD Symptoms

If you have adult ADHD, you may find it hard to:

Follow directions

Remember information


Organize tasks

Finish work on time

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can change over time. They may cause trouble in many parts of life -- at home, at work, or at school. Getting treatment & learning ways to manage ADHD can help. Most people learn to adapt. And adults with ADHD can develop their personal strengths & find success.

If you have ADHD, you may have trouble with:


Chronic boredom

Chronic lateness & forgetfulness


Trouble concentrating when reading

Trouble controlling anger

Problems at work


Low tolerance for frustration

Low self-esteem

Mood swings

Poor organization skills


Relationship problems

Substance abuse or addiction

Low motivation

Adults With ADHD are more likely to:

Change jobs a lot and perform poorly

Be less happy with their jobs & have fewer successes at work

Problems in Life

Get more speeding tickets, have their license suspended, or be involved in more crashes

Smoke cigarettes

Use alcohol or drugs more often

Have less money

Say they have psychological trouble like being depressed or have anxiety

Have more marital problems

Get separated & divorced more often

Have multiple marriages

Sometimes it can feel like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) hijacks your conversations. Maybe you interrupt people without thinking about it. Or you don’t pay close attention and miss important details, like where you’re supposed to meet friends.

This is because people with ADHD often have issues with executive function. That’s kind of like your brain’s manager. It’s responsible for sorting through the information in everyday life, like organizing your thoughts in the middle of a fast-paced conversation.

Possible Problem: Talking Too Much

Maybe you sometimes hog the conversation, especially if you’re passionate about the topic. You probably don’t realize you’re doing it -- but it can be annoying to others.

Solution: Ask questions.

Train yourself to ask questions after you say a couple of sentences to let the other person have their say, too. Silently repeat what’s said to you to keep your focus on listening rather than talking.

Possible Problem: Forgetfulness

You may not remember what you were going to say or what someone else said during important conversations.

Solution: Take notes.

Jot things down ahead of time so you remember what to say or ask. During the talk, take notes or ask the other person if it’s OK to use your phone to record the conversation.

Possible Problem: Interrupting

You may do this because you’re afraid of forgetting something important you want to say, but other people may think you’re rude.

Solution: Be aware of how much you do it.

Count how many times you interrupt in a meeting or in a normal conversation. Set a goal not to do it more than a certain number of times. Other things to try: If you feel like you’re overwhelmed during a conversation, breathe in slowly and fully exhale. Mentally rehearse not interrupting. If you catch yourself interrupting, own up to it. Say, “I’m sorry to interrupt. What were you going to say?”

Possible Problem: Finding the Right Words

The words you want to say are in your brain, but you can’t drag them out of your mind’s filing system. Sometimes you may simply choose the wrong word. That can cause misunderstandings.

Solution: Talk later.

Take a few deep breaths and try to organize your thoughts. If the right words don’t come to you, get back to the person later. If you’re not sure they understood what you said, ask them to repeat back what they heard.

Other Things You Can Do to Manage ADHD

When you have ADHD, even simple tasks like grocery shopping or paying bills can sometimes feel overwhelming. Anyone can have mood swings, loss of focus, & trouble staying organized, but you might deal with these each day if you have ADHD.

Your doctor can suggest medication or other treatments to help you focus better, but there are things you can do on your own to make life with ADHD more manageable:

Take medications as directed. If you are taking any medications for ADHD or any other condition, take them exactly as prescribed. Taking two doses at once to catch up on missed doses can be bad for you & others. If you notice side effects or other problems, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.


Choose a time that’s quiet & unhurried -- maybe at night before you go to bed -- & plan out the next day, down to each task. Make a realistic list of things to complete. Alternate things you want to do with ones you don’t to help your mind stay engaged. Use a daily planner, reminder app, timer, leave notes for yourself, & set your alarm clock when you need to remember an appointment or other activity.

Be Realistic About Time.

Your brain is wired differently than other people’s, & it may take you longer to get things done. That’s OK. Figure out a realistic time frame for your daily tasks -- & don’t forget to build in time for breaks if you think you’ll need them.

Breathe Slowly.

If you tend to do things you later regret, such as interrupting others or getting angry at others, manage the impulse by pausing. Count to 10 while you breathe slowly instead of acting out. Usually, the impulse will pass as quickly as it appeared.

Cut Down on Distractions.

When it’s time to buckle down and get something done, take away the distractions. If you find yourself being distracted by loud music or the television, turn it off or use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to drown out sounds. Put your phone on silent. Move yourself to a quieter location, or ask others to help make things less distracting. If you can, work in a room with a door you can close. Set up your space in a way that helps you focus.

Control Clutter.

Another way to quiet your brain is to clear your space of things you don’t need. It can prevent distractions, and it can help you stay organized because you’ll have fewer things to tidy up. Go paperless -- take your name off junk mailing lists & pay bills online. Get some organizational helpers like under-the-bed containers or over-the-door holders. Ask a friend to help if it seems like you’re swimming in a sea of debris & you don’t know where to start.

Burn off extra energy. Exercise is good for everyone, but it can do more than improve your heart health if you have ADHD. Even a little regular exercise can ease ADHD symptoms. You may need a way to get rid of some energy if you’re hyperactive or feel restless. Exercise, a hobby, or another pastime can be good choices. Shoot for 20 to 30 minutes a day. If you work in an office, a brisk walk during lunch may be the ticket to beating your brain’s afternoon slump. After you exercise, you’ll feel more focused and have more energy to stay on task.

Learn to Say No.

Impulsive behavior can be a side effect of ADHD. This means your brain might bite off more than it can handle. If you find yourself overwhelmed, try to say no to a few things. Ask yourself: Can I really get this done? Be honest with yourself & with others about what’s possible and what’s not. Once you get comfortable saying no, you’ll be able to enjoy the things you say yes to even more.

Reward Yourself.

Sticking to a task can be easier when there’s a mood booster at the end. Before you tackle a project, decide on a reward for yourself once you’re done. Positive reinforcement can help you stay the course.

Ask for Help.

We all need help from time to time, & it's important to not be afraid to ask for it. If you have disruptive thoughts or behaviors, ask a counselor if they have any ideas you can try that could help you control them.

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