Following are two case studies of clients I have worked with: their challenges and solutions. See which one you identify with more closely ... if at all. A common theme: I WANT to be more successful at work, but my impulsivity is really getting in the way these days. I am constantly at odds with my co-workers and routinely get sidetracked when we attempt to manage projects together. Help!
What do I do about being impulsive, interrupting constantly and getting sidetracked?
You are not alone! One of the hallmarks of adult ADHD is impulsivity which by definition is the lack of the brain's self-inhibiting function. In today's work environment, it is exceedingly necessary to be thorough, focused, organized and interpersonally skilled. The answer is to recognize your individual challenge, accept yourself and all that is good about you, and then decide what you are going to do about it. Ultimately, of course, the less impulsive you are, the better. Easier said than done sometimes for sure.
One great strategy is to hit the PAUSE button. Stop. Literally take a breath. Think through the issue and get your facts straight before jumping in impulsively; whether it be in a meeting or in a one-on-one conversation with a co-worker.
Venture Capitalist Jack's Personal Challenge: Jack was always talking before thinking things through thoroughly...like starting a journey without knowing the destination. As a result he occasionally took his co-workers on 'rabbit hole' routes of conversation; which was becoming increasingly more challenging as part of his job was to work collaboratively with his team on presentations. He would very quickly lose their attention as they were unable to identify which of the seven ideas he mentioned was truly the most important. He struggled constantly attempting to communicate his great ideas and was clueless as far as how to advocate for himself and get what he needed.
Jack's SOLUTION: Before going into an important meeting or conversation he would set aside ten minutes to stop and ask himself: "What do I want to achieve?" Once he could pinpoint his desired outcome (the destination) he was better able to outline the ideas and points that support the desired outcome (the path to the destination). Then, when in meetings and conversations he would have both clear mental notes (and a physical sheet of paper) to use as a guide.
The Strategy: Part of his new strategy to complete the cycle where he may have been impulsive was to pause after a meeting and think about what had happened. Occasionally he felt that he either hadn't understood others or (perhaps) hadn't communicated his own points well enough. He would make a couple of notes and then ask the person for clarification. He would say something like: "I was thinking about our meeting yesterday, and realize that I don't know that I was able to convey my idea/intention effectively." This opens the door to another conversation and a chance to communicate powerfully.
The Take-Away: Before you have an important conversation or go to a meeting, stop and ask yourself “What do I want to have happen as a result of having this conversation/meeting?” Once you are clear on what your goal is ( i.e. what you want to accomplish), you can then think about what you need to say and/or ask for in order to get what you want out of it. Aside from that, give yourself permission to go back, communicate and get clarification after the fact.
Attorney/Partner Anne's Personal Challenge: Anne would often get so excited about her own ideas and plans that she would frequently interrupt her co-workers when they were speaking. They felt she didn't value their contributions to the conversation ( which couldn't be farther from the truth) and would often get annoyed and aggravated with her. This was making her feel less than professional and paranoid sometimes.
Anne's SOLUTION: Reality is, as we said, Anne would get very excited to share her ideas and often wasn't aware that interrupting might be annoying to other people who are trying to speak to her.
We started by developing a bit of a script for her to use at the beginning of conversations or meetings with her coworkers as a way of advocating for herself: "I know that I have a tendency to interrupt, and it is never my intention to be rude. Reality is that I really want to hear what you have to say, and sometimes I have a hard time processing the information as quickly as I am hearing it." Anne has found that people are generally very responsive to this approach. Her working relationships began to improve as she was honest.
The Strategy: Additionally, she began making a conscious effort to allow other people to finish their sentences and ideas. She would watch their mouth and eyes until they finished speaking and then count to three (1 - 2 - 3) before she would speak. Simple solution for a potentially big and chronic problem.
The Take-Away: Make a conscious effort to let other people finish their sentences before you start speaking. Be a good listener, be honest and remember that most of the time you will get your chance to speak in the end.
Here is the question - do you see yourself in Jack or Anne? If so, there are solutions for you too.
Productivity coaching is a collaborative and ongoing partnership focused on YOU and your ability to achieve measurable and quantifiable results; by having the tools, structure and accountability you need to get unblocked, "unfrustrated," totally focused and on track.
Do contact me if you are interested in a free 10 minute strategy session and are seriously motivated to make changes, ready to make an investment in yourself and have a clear idea of what you want to get from coaching.
Have a productive day!
Warmly, Coach Nancy