Interpersonal communication can present challenges, which makes ADHD and confrontation especially difficult. People with ADHD many times have difficulty with social situations. Some people with ADHD can appear shy or withdrawn. While others can come across as exuberant, excited, and possibly overbearing.
These different personality types come through from the different types of ADHD. In both extremes, though, the person with ADHD usually has difficulty engaging others or understanding others feelings and emotions. This is why ADHD and empathy can be so challenging, as well.
Since people with ADHD struggle to understand the emotions of others and can find social interactions difficult, it just follows that they might struggle with confrontation as well. Sometimes, the issue with confrontation involves simply not understanding the other person’s emotions in the situation. Also, we tend to put too much focus on ourselves and how we have been wronged.
While we may struggle to separate ourselves from an intense situation, in doing this we might find better ways to approach confrontations. In this post, we really want to first break down why ADHD and confrontation usually go wrong and then how we can make it go right. With understanding both aspects, we can set ourselves up for more success with having positive confrontations with others.
ADHD and Confrontation: How We Get it Wrong
Most of us avoid confrontation because we have seen too many times when it has gone wrong. To be honest, many of us might even consider ourselves experts in making confrontations go wrong. Unfortunately, even though we may know the confrontation went wrong, many times we don’t understand the reasons why everything unraveled. If we could trace the collapse of ADHD and confrontation back to the initial sources, this might help us find ways to get better at handling confrontation. Let’s consider some of the reasons that confrontations usually go poorly.
We Let Emotions Take Control
The first way we get ADHD and confrontation wrong is through letting our emotions take control of the situation. People with ADHD tend to also be very emotional people. Sometimes, they have bouts of mood swings going from one high to another low very quickly. Other times, they might feel angry or depressed and simply not know why. This emotional difficulty can make confrontation especially difficult. This proves especially true when we just allow our emotions to drive how we respond to situations.
In times when we feel angry or upset or hurt, we might not think rationally about our situation. As a result, when we are in the middle of still processing our emotions we shouldn’t try to approach a confrontation. Instead, you should wait until you have figured out your own emotions and thought through everything. After you have done that then you can go into a confrontation with a more leveled approach.
If someone wants to confront you when your emotions run high, find a way to get out of the situation. Ask them for a moment to process things or arrange another time to talk after you have had time to process. Whatever the situation, you need to try your hardest to keep your emotions from taking over. Our emotions play a powerful role in our lives and can quickly make a confrontation turn bad.
We Hold It in Until We Snap
The second issue we normally have with ADHD and confrontation involves when we respond to a situation. Maybe we don’t want to rock the boat or upset anyone. Possibly, we don’t want to believe we may really be bothered anything.
Whatever the reason, most of us don’t want to address a situation that bothers us until we pass the point of no return. We all know the point of no return, too. That’s the point in which we just snap and lose our cool, and instead of approaching the situation rationally, we explode.
Successful confrontation can’t work if you only enter it when you find yourself at the end of your rope. When you hang at the end of a rope, you feel desperate and you lash out instead of speak out of reason. The confrontation comes across as an attack right away.
Instead of waiting for your fuse to blow, approach the confrontation before you explode. When you first notice a pattern or issue forming, you need to decide to take action. Try to talk with the person soon after you first see the problem.
Before you talk with them, though, think through what you want to say. Also, schedule a meeting specifically to talk things through away from when you normally might feel irritated. This approach helps you to go into the confrontation calm and ready to find a solution.
We Assume We’re Right and They’re Wrong
Lastly, one final way we tend to get confrontation wrong is that we make assumptions that favor us and put the other person in a bad light. In our own minds, we always picture ourselves as a victim. As a result, no matter what the other person says, we always see ourselves as the offended party.
If we go into a confrontation thinking we’re the victim, we tend to stop listening until we hear an apology. Additionally, as a victim, we tend to justify anything we may say or do. Since we feel that we are the wronged party, anything we do in response is ok in our minds. Unfortunately, not only is this rarely the case, it also isn’t helpful for resolving conflict.
More often than not when we have conflict we share some responsibility for the situation. This means that if we plan to address ADHD and confrontation well, we can’t place all the blame on the other person.
Rather, we need to try our best to act as an impartial third party. While we can’t remove our emotions entirely from the situation, we nonetheless would benefit ourselves if we simply tried to look at the situation with just the facts. In short, we need to learn and practice better listening and understanding during a confrontation.
Consider your side of the story, but you also need to hear the other person’s without assigning blame first. If you can go into the situation with no one appearing right and no one appearing wrong in your own mind, you can find a quicker resolution to your conflict.
ADHD and Confrontation: How to Do it Right
Now that we understand some of the ways ADHD and confrontation goes wrong, we need to identify ways to make it go right. We need to break down some aspects of what healthy confrontation looks like. Instead of having confrontations that explode and end with no resolution, we need to learn to have confrontations that reach positive resolutions. Below we have some simple tips to help make sure your confrontations head towards a peaceful end.
Keep Your Cool
First, a major way to have ADHD and confrontation start to go right means you need to keep your cool. When emotions run hot, a simple confrontation can turn sour real fast. If things start to go bad, effective communication shuts down and you might never reach a solution.
To keep the dialogue open and moving forward, you need to maintain your cool. Admittedly, in a confrontation, keeping your cool can be difficult. Especially if the other person gets emotional, you want to respond in a similar way.
To get better at keeping your cool, though, you should start with practicing a confrontation before it happens. You can try this by pretending to have the confrontation with someone else. If the person knows the situation this can help as well. At the very least, though, make sure the person you practice with can respond in a similar way as you think the person you need to confront would respond.
In practicing beforehand, you can run through a few different scenarios and ways to resolve them. This helps you keep your cool even when things get heated because you have practiced how to respond effectively.
Ask Permission First
Secondly, you can help make ADHD and confrontation go better simply by asking permission to engage in the conversion with the other person. At first, this seems unnecessary and trivial. In reality, though, this helps to transform the understanding of the confrontation in the eyes of the other person.
To find success with a confrontation, you need to have both parties act as willing participants. In order to make this happen, both parties have to want to be present and feel like they have a voice. If one party feels like they are forced into the situation and aren’t being heard, they are more likely to act defensively. You should preemptively remove those defenses by simply inviting the person in.
Ask them if you can talk with them. Tell them exactly what you want to discuss, and specifically ask if you can talk to them about your concerns over the situation. If they say no, you should respect their decision. You can always ask again at a later time. If they still refuse, you should offer to have someone else mediate the situation. Work with them until you find something that works for everyone in order for the confrontation to go well.
How You Say Things Matters
A third way to make sure ADHD and confrontation goes better simply involves keeping in mind that it matters how you say things. In heated situations when our blood is pumping and our emotions run high, we tend to say things that we normally wouldn’t. We also tend to say thing in a way that we normally wouldn’t.
When we argue or react based on emotions, we might say things sarcastically or in a harsh tone. Alternatively, we might act or say things in a dismissive or demeaning way. All these things can make the person we talk with or confront feel slighted or attacked or even disrespected.
To resolve conflict especially with someone you work with or deal with regularly, you need to remember you have to speak to them with respect. While you might not necessarily say something wrong, it might still be wrong because of how you say it.
When approaching a conflict, remember to slow down and process what you want to say before you say it. No matter how emotional you feel or how the other person responds, you should chose to react slowly and speak in a regular tone. While this seems simple, it can turn a negative confrontation into a success.
Work Together for Solutions
Finally, improving ADHD and confrontation means finding ways to work together for a mutual solution. Too often we go into a confrontation with the mindset that we need to win a battle. If we view the confrontation as a battle, though, we make it so there has to be a winner and a loser.
Instead of seeing a confrontation as a battle, we need to start viewing it as a team meeting. You need to see the person you confront as someone to work with to find a solution. Confrontation happens because something doesn’t work right or is off. To fix what isn’t working well, you have to work together with the other person to find the right solution for both of you.
You have to view the situation as a problem that affects both sides. If you act as if the other person doesn’t have an equal stake in the situation then they lack an incentive to try to improve anything. Instead, if you work together towards one solution, you give the other person voice in the situation. This helps move you far closer to a solution a lot faster than otherwise.
How to Conquer your Fear of Approaching ADHD and Confrontation
Our main issue with dealing with ADHD and confrontation involves our fear of the situation. Most of us would rather just sit and stew in our emotions than risk a confrontation going badly. Since we all have had confrontations that went poorly, we rarely want to try to approach confrontation again.
The truth is, though, that ADHD and confrontation doesn’t always have to go poorly. With understanding the typical issues for why confrontation doesn’t work and having tools to make it go better, we can turn confrontation into a positive experience.
We hope that this article has provided you just the tools you need to improve any type of confrontation. Use the strategies and ideas presented here the next time you have an issue with a friend or colleague. More likely than not, if you use these tools effectively, your confrontation might turn out for the better than for the worse.