ADHD: Don’t Hesitate to Ask People to Repeat Themselves When You “Space Out”
The hardest thing for me to do is to concentrate on someone’s words in a busy setting because I listen to and notice everything around me. As a result I often miss what they’re saying...
Often, if you listen to Air Traffic Control radio transmissions, you’ll hear pilots or AT controllers say, “Say that again...” They’re busy and easily distracted, after all, and lives are in the balance.
For most of us with ADHD, though, pretty much any conversation can present a challenge, either because we’re vigilantly observing our environment or trying to hang onto that thought that we want to interject into the conversation.
Not only are people generally not offended when you ask for a repeat or clarification, usually they’re pleased because they take it as a sign that you value what they have to say. So, stop being embarrassed by missing what people say!
David, who works in a research lab, says that he developed the strategy that pilots and air traffic controllers use when they miss something.
A real challenge for me all my life has been to develop the ability to concentrate on people who are talking to me.
(On a positive note, I surprise people when I handle more than one task with apparent ease. Only I know, however, how difficult it is for me to remember where I was five minutes earlier!)
Without a doubt, the hardest thing for me to do is to concentrate on someone’s words in my busy setting: because I listen to and notice everything around me, I miss what they’re saying
To deal with this, I’ve gotten in the habit of telling them, “I’m sorry, but I missed that.” Or sometimes I’ll say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.”
These short sentences are forever ingrained in my mind!
I used to just agree with people when they were talking to me and often I’d hear them ending with something like, “Right?” Of course, then I’d be embarrassed and just say, “Yeah, right.”
After a few Big Mistakes in the lab because of this, though, I learned that it’s better to be thought of as hard-of-hearing than to screw up research or bloodwork.
So now I always say, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t hear you,” or something similar.