Adults with ADHD at Work
You know those complicated feelings all too well – the combination of fear, regret, and anxiety that pops up when you’ve missed a deadline when half the day is gone. You’ve made little to no progress on a critical report or when you’re late to work again! For adults with ADHD at work, these can all be familiar and even painful experiences. You know you’re capable, but you feel like you’re always falling short when it comes to time management, organization, punctuality, or focus.
Signs & Symptoms
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This is a very clinical way of saying ADHD starts with an irregularity in how the brain develops during childhood. And, although it begins early in life, ADHD never really goes away. The good news is adult ADHD can be successfully managed to reduce symptoms and fully enjoy all life has to offer. To that end, if you’re an adult with ADHD at work, don’t fret! Enough research has been done so that mental health professionals have identified some of the most common ways that ADHD in the workplace can present itself. Keep reading for descriptions of these symptoms and some practical solutions on how to deal with each.
Issue: Co-worker Conflict
Usually, when we think of ADHD, we might imagine someone who has a hard time concentrating and forgets to do things. It’s important to remember the H in ADHD, though, which stands for hyperactivity. Hyperactive symptoms are closely linked to impulsivity. Impulsivity, on the other hand, is closely related to interpersonal conflict. What does this mean for the person experiencing ADHD at work? Sometimes, it can be hard for them to get along with their colleagues and even their bosses. Blurting things out, being quick to anger, and a low threshold for frustration can be a real burden if you need to get along with your peers at the office.
Solution: Rest and Re-consider
Impulsivity means we might say or do things, especially in the heat of a moment, that we will later regret. We might raise our voice, drop an f-bomb, or storm out of a colleague’s office if we have a hard time controlling our impulses. A career in most fields, however, requires getting along with people. So, if your ADHD at work is causing you interpersonal grief, get into the habit of sleeping on things. Discussing things when you’re angry can backfire pretty quickly. If something happened that upset you, take a day to reflect on it before you address it with your boss or co-worker. By implementing a waiting period, you can better understand your feelings before deciding how (or even if) to address something.
Issue: Messy Meetings
Who doesn’t love a work meeting?! Well, all sarcasm aside, if you don’t have ADHD and you’ve felt bored out of your mind at work meetings before, imagine what that same meeting might be like for a person with ADHD. Some meetings aren’t dull, though. Instead, a stressed higher-up might be frantically searching for information or answers at a meeting that was only scheduled a few hours earlier. Now imagine what that must be like for a person who struggles to pay attention and organize their ideas. ADHD at work can make it really hard to process a lot of information at once. If the boss is yelling and demanding answers, that adds a stressful and emotional component that only worsens things.