Saying the Right Thing with ADD and ADHD

Image courtesy of stockimages /
Image courtesy of stockimages /

One of the biggest challenges for anyone with ADD and ADHD is recognizing the impact of our words. I’ve been in numerous situations where I will say something that doesn’t go over very well with the recipient. While I do not mean any malice with my words, it never goes over very well. I’ll usually get a strange look or even worse, a nasty response.

The other day, I was working with one of my clients in his 20s. We discussed this whole topic. Why do people with ADD/ADHD make comments at the wrong time? Why can’t we just say the right thing, or even better, nothing at all? In response to this issue, I work with my clients on the Internal Pause Button. It is thinking through something before speaking or acting upon it.

I ask my clients to use a quick checklist in his or her head before saying something asking three simple questions.

  1. How will the other person take my words?
  2. If my words will upset the other person, is it worth it?
  3. Is there another way I can say this?

Now, this skill needs to be developed and practiced on a regular basis. Here’s an example from my life. I was playing golf with some friends in two groups, the group behind us kept hitting the ball into our group. When we reached the next tee, I said, ever heard of the word fore? It didn’t go over very well because, in fact, they had screamed it. It created a tense and uncomfortable situation that wasn’t necessary in that moment. If I would have made a joke about hitting strength or being at the wrong place at the wrong time, it would have gone over so much better. Using the three-steps above would have helped make light of the situation. I put the group on the defensive. Really not worth it at that point.

I’d recommend practicing the three steps above with a loved one or someone you trust. Tell them what you’re trying to do and ask for feedback. That is how you develop the skill.

For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit In addition to working with clients in-person, I also work with clients all over the United States and World online, please visit for more information. To learn more about my other services, please visit & I can be found on Twitter at ADHDGuru. You can also find me on Facebook, Google Plus and Tumblr. Feel free to email me at [email protected] or call 877.398.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.

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