How many times have you found yourself speaking to a friend and noticing your minds wandering off? Or perhaps you were listening and waiting impatiently for them to finish their sentence so that you could change the subject and discuss something of interest to you? These are 2 common listening problems that are common to people with ADHD. Aside from not being able to respond to your friend’s needs at that moment, you give them the feeling that you are disinterested or don’t care. In addition, because your mind may be wandering, you may not remember some very important points that were being made, which leaves others feeling that you are disinterested or self absorbed.
So, how does one rectify this problem? Being able to learn how to be mindful and notice when your thoughts are drifting off are probably the most valuable skill for you to develop in order to enhance your ability to be a good listener. Staying present to our life experiences every moment is about developing present awareness. This can be developed through meditation, which teaches us to be mindful. Try practicing mindful listening skills with a partner. Notice when your mind drifts off and bring it back to the conversation. Always maintain eye contact when listening to someone and ask for clarification if you are feeling lost in the conversation. Try mirroring back and paraphrasing what you have heard. If you are unsure that you understand the meaning of their words, ask for clarification. A short example of how to do this would be;
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- “So, if I understand you correctly, you were angry with your mother for asking you to go to the store. Is that correct? “
- “Yes, because she always does this when I am running late”.
- “Oh, so your mother asks you to run errands when you feel pressured for time?”
Learning to be mindful and develop empathic listening skills will enhance all of your relationships by helping to resolve misunderstandings, frustration and conflicts. In addition, it will make people feel valued and heard, which leads to the maintenance of healthy lifelong friendships.
Remember, having ADHD is an explanation, not an excuse. So, don’t use your ADHD as an excuse for not stepping up to the plate, since being able to maintain friendships is an important part of feeling valued, while providing us with a sense of contentedness in the world. For these reasons alone, mastering these skills may just be one of the most important lessons for anyone to learn.
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