Let’s be honest, having ADHD can be very annoying. We annoy our selves and others are annoyed by some of our ADHD traits. Despite having ADHD it can sometimes be difficult to be understanding towards others who also have this disorder. One might think that it would be natural to be compassionate and extend grace towards others with the same challenges and struggles, but the heart and mind doesn’t quite work that way.
Part of my own ADHD traits include talking really loudly, talking fast, moving my arms all over the place when I talk, sometimes getting into people’s bubbles when I’m over animated, and being short with people when I am feeling tired overwhelmed, or overcome with anxiety. All these traits together sometimes catch people off guard if they don’t know me. This is one of the reasons why I don’t attend networking socials and feel uncomfortable being in places where I don’t know other people.
There are ADHD traits in others that I sometimes have a difficult time dealing with. Despite knowing that it is part of the symptoms of adult ADHD I still find myself becoming impatient or frustrated with the person. At times I feel disappointed in myself for not being more understanding and for not remembering that how upset I am when others with ADHD don’t extend compassion.
As I am writing this blog post I clearly remember a supervisor of mine who had ADHD, most likely inattentive ADHD. He was always late to work leaving me waiting to enter the building, he had a habit of losing important paperwork, he was forgetful about things that were important (meetings, bookings, and passing on vital information), he rarely paid attention to staff when we were talking to him, and he was incredibly messy leaving our workspace looking like a high school student’s messy bedroom.
It wasn’t only I who found him frustrating, so did the other staff. However, I felt that I could have been more understanding towards him because we both have this disorder even if our symptoms were different. I wouldn’t expect people to make excuses for a supervisor who is a poor fit for a position; but there needs to be boundaries and a level of professionalism involved when dealing with a person who has a disability. Constantly writing a person up for poor performance without providing helpful suggestions for change, and workplace bullying such as name calling, ostracizing, and hostility is not alright.
When you know a person has poorly managed ADHD your expectations of that person need to change. In the workplace it’s easier to address because of performance reviews, policy and procedures, and sometimes clearly marked outcomes expectations. When you are dealing with that person as a friend or family member it’s more difficult, we have expectations, but they can’t be enforced, and you can’t fire a relative from being in your family.
What we can do is be more patient, understanding, and realistic. In the workplace a job might not be a good match for someone with ADHD and eventually the person might have to find something or somewhere else to make a living. The deeper issue is how we treat those with ADHD when we find their behaviour and actions frustrating and disruptive. It is well known that those who have adult ADHD are sensitive and more prone to have low self-esteem. Let’s try not to add unpleasant experiences to their lives.
I have been on both ends, the one who handled my frustrations in unhelpful ways, and the person who was treated horribly as a result of my ADHD symptoms. As adults the best thing we can do for our peers is show them some understanding while still maintaining our workplace boundaries.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12