Managing Communication at Work with ADHD

Here’s what one ADHD adult wrote about managing her communication skills at work: 

I have a hard time communicating at work.  Most people don’t understand me.  I process information differently than most people do, I get bored with repetition.  I have trouble communicating even though I know what I want to say but when I begin speaking I get tongue tied and nothing comes out right.  I think it’s because I am so concerned about loosing focus and getting off subject…something I do all the time. How do you manage your ADHD at work?

My answer:

Many of my clients have this type of issue. The ADHD brain continues to process what is being said and so misinterpretations happen. You’ve actually mentioned one of the best ways to avoid that:

1) summarizing what you’ve heard. You might say: “so the decision is…, do I understand this correctly?” and you may want to check if it’s ok to discuss outside of the meeting.

2) don’t be shy to ask questions. A lot of my ADHD clients are afraid to ask any questions because they think it’s not normal to do that or that they’ll embarrass themselves or look stupid. Reality check! we all need to ask questions sometimes.

3) ask them to summarize what they understood of what you said: “I just want to make sure that I communicated effectively to you what I was trying to say. Could you recap what I just said, please”. Communication breakdowns don’t just happen to ADHDers, in fact, with the crazy busy life we lead today, many people find communication difficult. So it doesn’t sound “abnormal” to ask to summarize.

Finally, if you don’t put yourself under stress to capture absolutely everything that is being said, you’ll be able to better relax when you speak to people and a relaxed brain is able to absorb information much better than when it’s under stress.

Tell me what you think? Are there other issues you have that you’d like addressed in this blog?

Managing Your Mood When You Have ADHD

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One of my clients told me about an interesting video game she found out about that helps manage your moods every day. While it is not specifically for ADHD, ADHD adults can definitely benefit from it. Many of my clients have difficulty with managing their mood. They can get down on themselves and have to deal with so much more crap than most people.

It was developed by a social psychologist and tested at McGill University on telemarketers to see if it improved their outlook on life and their sales by improving what they paid attention to. And it did, not only that, but just by playing the video game 5 mintes a day, it also improved their self-esteem and their sales.

Basically the video game shows you different types of faces, you have to click on the ones who smile. Eventually, you get to the point where they are the only ones you see, that is, you filter out the grumpy or threatening faces and pay more attention to smiling faces.

Here are the conclusion:  “…whereas people with lower self-esteem tended to show a pronounced attentional bias toward threat, this tendency was essentially removed if they first played the find-the-smile game. This suggests that attentional habits can indeed be trained by practicing the ability to orient toward positive and away from negative social feedback.”

They offer free trials and you can purchase with unlimited use at $19.95 Canadian.

I tried it and found that I was smiling more at the end of the session, but then again, I tend to be a pretty happy person. Managing your mood whether you’re an ADHD adult or not, is a choice. I can tell you that deciding to stay positive and happy leads to success.

I’d love for those of you who try it out to let me know how it went. Click here to try it

Don’t worry, be happy.


ADHD Adults Shouldn’t Be Entrepreneurs?

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Opening the brand new premier issue of Success Magazine and reading up on Richard Branson, the poster child for ADHD entrepreneurs, I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with a client of mine. She’s an entrepreneur with ADHD whose psychologist told her that becoming an entrepreneur is one of the worse careers you get into if you’re an adult with ADHD because it lacks structure.

I was flabbergasted to be honest! I work with many incredibly successful entrepreneurs with ADHD. In fact, I feel that many ADHDers are perfectly suited for entrepreneurship. After all, they tend to be “Big Picture” thinkers who are great visionaries, very important qualities in leadership. Details tend to bore the large majority of ADHDers. They’re also adventurous risk seekers, and who crave high stimulation.

The biggest complaint my ADHD entrepreneurial clients mention is a difficulty with focusing on one idea at a time because they just have so many brilliant ideas. Their creativity allows them to be excellent problem solvers, often finding “out-of-the-box” solutions to seemingly impossible problems. They are easily distracted by their environment and are more likely than “neurotypicals” (adults without ADHD) to spot opportunities. They have unlimited amounts of energy and focus when working on projects they’re interested in.

Lack of structure can cause ADHD entrepreneurs to fail but it is far from insurmountable. It’s actually where I often come in for my clients. They’ve often been in business a while and now that it’s getting big they need help to create structures. They often struggle with projects because of it.

If you’re an ambitious adult with ADHD and you decide to start a business you’re passionate about and find people who can help you to manage your areas of weakness, you’ve got a better chance to succeed and be unstoppable despite the odds.

Richard Branson (Virgin Industries), David Neeleman (Jet Blue Airlines), and Paul Orfalea (Kinkos) are living proof that when you work on your strengths, channel your energy in passionate endeavors, you can be wildly successful ADHD Entrepreneurs.

What are thoughts on this?

“I’m sorry Sweetheart, you don’t have ADHD”

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My ADHD husband, Duane, and I have been working on various ADHD-related business projects together. I won’t go into all the details but I will tell you that we’re both really excited about the direction my ADHD coaching business is taking. We’re so excited in fact that we’re constantly talking about it, working on it, and living it.

Last night, around 9 pm my energy started to drop while Duane’s was still going strong. I told him I wished I had the amount of energy he has around this project. He replied: “I’m sorry Sweetheart, you don’t have ADHD, like me”.

And so I was reminded about some of the upside to ADHD. Adults with ADHD have an almost limitless amount of energy when they’re doing something that interests them. This is not to trivialize adult ADHD and its negative effects on ADHDer’s lives… the financial problems, the workplace issues, the chronic procrastination and disorganisation, the poor memory and the marital problems. I could go on… been there, done that, not doing it again, though!

However, when an ADHD adult decides, as Duane did, to take matters into his own hands, invest in him or herself, gets the help he needs (medication, ADHD coaching, use of technology), and creates systems that support their lives, the sky’s the limit.

What will you do to take matters into your own hands?

ADHD Adult, You Are Not Alone

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According to research quoted in Dr. Russell Barkley’s new book on adult ADHD, there are 8.1 percent of adults with ADHD in the U.S. Given the similarities in our ancestries, it’s also safe to believe that these figures may be similar north of the 49th parallell.

Oddly enough there are still some people who question whether it exists. They question its existence because there are no “objective tests” to identify ADHD. While it’s true that there are no blood tests or x-rays used to diagnose ADHD, when groups of adults with ADHD are compared to groups of adults without ADHD, SPECT tomography (by the way that is an objective test) shows a REAL difference between the brains of ADHDers and non-ADHD adults. Unfortunately the same test cannot be used to diagnose it in one adult because the differences in an adult cannot be compared since no human brain is exactly the same.

So health professionals who diagnose adults with ADHD by taking inventory of their symptoms and use a series of questionnaires, as well as, family, academic, social and work histories, and cognitive and attentional tests.

This work up is a lot more than what is used to diagnose another ailment that no one seems to dispute: the “common cold”, which if you remember is diagnosed using signs and symptoms described by the patient. There is no blood work or X-ray used to diagnose the “common cold” when you go to the doctor.

So just because there is no objective test doesn’t mean adult ADHD isn’t real. There is real pain and real suffering and ADHD adults suffer even more by not being able to get the help they need because they can’t “come out” of the dark.

You’re an ADHD Adult: Learn to Dance in the Rain

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“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain” (author unknown)

I heard this quote on a show about autism and realized how powerful it was. So many people facing adversity have unrealized dreams (writing a book, starting a business, getting healthy, etc…. what’s your dream?) They’re waiting for things to be perfect before they start on THE big project.

As an ADHD adult, you know things will never be perfect. Heck, if you’re human, things will never be perfect. You’ll wait your little heart out if you’re looking for perfection. It’s not going to happen, and in the meantime, you’re missing an opportunity because you’re putting the cart before the horse.

That “big project” you’re planning (after the storm has passed of course) may be just the motivator you need to improve your life. That big project or exciting goal will often give you enough energy to resolve the very issues that are holding you back.

Are you waiting until you get organized, learn to manage your time, improve your finances or overcome your tendency to procrastinate? You’ll wait a long time. But if you go ahead and start, if you get excited about what you’re doing, you’ll have the fuel you need to resolve those issues and more.

Don’t wait. Dig out your umbrella, put on your rain coat and set out on your adventure. You may be surprised to find that while it is stormy where you are, the storm will pass, and it’ll pass faster if you’re moving forward.

Once you start your project, you’ll be far more motivated to get your “s**t together” and learn to better manage your money, your time, your relationships, yourself… The road won’t always be smooth, and you may stumble from time to time, but when you set your sights on an exciting objective, you’ll have the energy to get back up and get over, or through, any obstacle.

Are you waiting for the storm to pass? Come dancing!

Adult ADHD Research Seeks Candidates in Montreal

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Hi everyone,

I am forwarding you this information that was presented at an ADHD Support Group in Montreal for those of you who were not there.

There is research going on in Montreal on ADHD in adults! Besides the obvious wanting to help the cause, you may be interested to find out that if you were not diagnosed officially, there will be an evaluation to determine if you indeed have ADHD. I know diagnosis is not always easy to access so here’s your chance.

A study being conducted at McGill University in Montreal on ADHD adults is recruiting healthy men and women with ADHD (18 to 45 yrs. old) who are NOT currently taking ADHD medication (e.g. Ritalin, Adderall, etc).

Prior diagnosis is not required. If you do not have an official diagnosis, you will be tested to ensure that you have ADHD.

What is the study about?

They are studying the relationship between ADHD and dopamine, a chemical messenger that occurs naturally in the brain. This will help them understand what causes ADHD and why stimulant medications help reduce symptoms in some people.

What’s involved?

4 sessions of 1 to 4 hours arranged at your convenience. Sessions include:

  • an interview
  • a complete physical examination
  • PET and MRI scans
  • a few short psychological tests.
  • Participants will receive one dose of the ADHD medication Dexedrine ONCE.
  • Participants will be compensated.

If you are interested or for more information contact Mariya at 514-398-4916 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              514-398-4916      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email at

Buildings routines as an adult with ADHD

I’m so excited about this and really have to tell someone. First, I’ve put up a blog and have been contributing to the addcoachingblog, and there’s more… Ready, here it is: I’m writing a book on productivity management for ADHDers. I started in September with an idea and in October with an outline and am happy to say the first draft is almost finished.

A lesson learned…

As I am writing this book, I realise just how difficult it is to create the routine of writing. I’ve tried many formulas but have found that what worked best for me is the same as what I would suggest to a client with ADHD. That is, to attach this routine to another one that I already are consistently doing. Being a believer in the importance of breakfast, I never miss it so I’ve been writing while I’m having breakfast. As a result, I’ve been writing consistently at least one hour a day every day.

What routine do you want to create in your life? Can you anchor it to another one you’re already doing?

A solution for ADHDers who forget their ADHD medications

Many of my ADHD clients are frustrated by their difficulty with estimating time and being on time to appointments. Their spouses and friends get annoyed at their tardiness. In our Time Management workshop for ADHDers we help participants find ways to get reminded of appointments and when they need to take their medications.

Many decide to use a PDA (Palm Pilot, Blackberry or iPaq) to get those reminders. For those who prefer a paper agenda reminders are more difficult to arrange. Here’s an article on how you can get free reminders using Internet agendas like Google Calendar and setting them up to remind you by text messaging you on your cell phone. I tried it and it works! Remember though that text messaging may cost you a few cents more. The article talks about using these reminder systems to reminders to take your ADHD medications.

“Funny how the biggest problems most people have with these ‘addictive’ medications is forgetting to take them! What do you think?”

Is ADHD a disability?

I was at a conference with Dr. Russell Barkley when he insisted that ADHD is a disability and that to see it as anything but is a mistake. As a coach, my tendency is to find the diamond in the rough, the strengths and talents my clients have so I’m less likely to work on the disability but really more on the strenghts and talents of my clients. This, of course, is not to say that ADHDers are not severely challenged at times by their ADHD.

What do you think? Is ADHD a disability?