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Being Present With Another Person When Your ADHD Would Like To Wander

Being Present With Another Person When Your ADHD Would Like To Wander

Being present with another human being has got to be the most beautiful experience anyone can have. As someone who has spent a life seeking strategies to manage ADHD and pervasive distractibility, this ability has been hard won.

I discovered a powerful and unique strategy for quickly connecting with another human being, one I’m privileged to share with you.

The basic idea of being present doesn’t lend itself to the kind of emotional energy a brain like mine needs in order to stay alert and focused.

Simply being aware of everything in the moment as it arises is wonderful. However, the ADHD mind needs additional stimulation in order to maintain this awareness. Or it can drift off so deeply into itself that the original intention of being present is lost.

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What can one do under these circumstances?

You can begin with the end in mind. When spending time with someone, I suggest making two decisions beforehand.

  1. Decide which of your values you want to show up with during your time together (e.g. love, respect, understanding).
  2. Decide on a strategy for how the person you are with will experience that value as a result of your time together. Say you choose to practice the value of understanding another. I have yet to meet another person who doesn’t want to be understood. Therefore, this is a value that you can use as your go-to value especially when meeting someone for the first time.

Conceptualizing the strategy for understanding another person begins by asking yourself this question: What do I need to believe, say, and do in order to honor this person’s right to be understood by me?

One belief is embedded in the question. The belief that the other person has a right to be understood. You can even reframe that belief to say, “The person in front of me has a right to feel understood.”

It’s important to understand that this strategy is not transactional, as in, I’m not going to do it unless you do it. This is you stepping up in a highly proactive way. Doing your part to create a beautiful moment between you and the person you’re with.

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Whichever belief you choose, these are the next questions to ask

  1. Based on my belief, what would I say in order to help the other person feel understood by me?
  2. Based on my belief, what must I do in order to help the other person feel understood by me?

There is likely a fly in the ointment here and it’s the fact that you are not a mind-reader and could be off-base in your sense of what the other person wants to see and hear in order to feel understood.

Hence, there is a need for promises to check in with the other person by saying, “May I check in with you for a moment? I want to make sure I understand you correctly.”

You then proceed to share what you’ve heard so far, with emphasis on the meaning you infer from what you are being told. You then give the other person an opportunity to confirm or correct your understanding before moving on.

For the mind that already practices a similar strategy, this can seem like common sense. For the mind that is wired for wandering, this can feel at first like a momentous effort, which is why such a concrete instruction is both helpful and necessary.

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How effective listening leads to true mindfulness

There are, of course, mindfulness purists who will likely reject my suggestions, advocating for a mind free of any agenda and simply staying open for whatever arises in that moment.

I don’t believe for one second that even the most mindful person who takes the time to be present for another isn’t at least coming from the belief that giving another person that time and attention is important. So you see, there’s always some sort of desire to be satisfied and that’s okay. As long as the needs of both people are met to the highest extent possible.

Take some time to contemplate this. See if it enhances the degree of focus, intention, and self-determination that you bring to each moment you have the privilege of spending with another human being.

You’ll be grateful you did.

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Oh, one last thing. You can close the time you spent together by saying, “Thank you for helping me to understand you better. You deserve it.”

Thanks for being you.

Featured photo credit: Greatist via greatist.com

More by this author

Brian R. King

Relationship Success Coach for the ADHD Community and Beyond

Being Present With Another Person When Your ADHD Would Like To Wander

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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