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Section 11
Tools for Setting the Right Social & Emotional Expectation

Question 11 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed three difficulties ADHD adults face in group interfacing. These three difficulties are shifting gears rapidly, running out of gas, and setting the cruise control for mega-speed. We also discussed five tips for dealing with group interfacing. These five tips were Being Prepared, Doing Your Homework, Practicing, Watching and Listening, and Watching Your Watch.

In this section, we will discuss two difficulties ADHD adults face in a one-on-one interaction. The two difficulties we will discuss are working too hard, and having too much intensity. We will also discuss five tips for dealing with one-on-one interactions.

Jennifer, age 36, came to a session stating she was depressed. Jennifer explained that a new woman, Alice, had moved into the house next door to her. However, Jennifer’s attempts to befriend Alice weren’t going as well as she hoped.

Jennifer stated, "When Alice first moved in, I made a visit to introduce myself. I invited her over for coffee the next day. She came over, and we had a nice long talk about the neighborhood. We probably talked for three hours! Alice told me a little bit about her old neighborhood too, which was really boring. I really didn’t listen to that much. I stopped by her house the next day, too, just to chat and visit. I also called her the next day. I thought we were getting along great! Lately, though, it seems like Alice has been avoiding me. I just don’t know what I did to make her so unhappy with me."

2 Difficulties with One-on-One Interaction

Difficulty # 1 - Working Too Hard
As you probably guessed, Jennifer was having problems with a common difficulty among ADHD adults, working too hard to develop a new friendship. I have noticed that many adults with ADHD, like Jennifer, will often come on too strong as they try to make connections for friendships with new people. In Jennifer’s case, her attempts to be friendly probably felt smothering to Alice.

Difficulty # 2 - Too Much Intensity
I have found that another common difficulty is having too much intensity. As you are well aware, adults with ADHD are very intense. This intensity can sometimes overwhelm others. It seemed to me that in her encounters with Alice, Jennifer’s intensity may have been perceived by Alice as overpowering. Do you agree?

Five Tips for Effective One-on-One Interactions
I asked Jennifer if she would like some advice for reapproaching her friendship with Alice. Jennifer nodded and stated, "Sure. She seemed so nice! Plus, she lives right next door. I really want to be able to call her a friend." I offered Jennifer five tips to better handle her one-on-one interactions with Alice. As I explain these five tips to Jennifer, think of your ADHD client.

♦ Tip One - Relax & Listen
I first gave Jennifer the tip Relax and Listen. As you can see, this is a basic technique suggested in other sections. But could you be overlooking this basic in the last session you had with your ADHD client? As you know, adults with ADHD tend to go to extremes, either talking a mile a minute or completely tuning out. I stated to Jennifer, "Some silence is OK.

Avoid the two extremes you’re prone to do." Jennifer looked troubled and asked, "How do I balance those extremes?" I answered with an idea that I have explained in a previous section, "Active listening will enable you to interact without filling the conversation all on your own. You can send the message that you’re actively listening by nodding your head, leaning forward, and maintaining eye contact."

♦ Tip Two - Clarify the Message
I then explained to Jennifer the second tip for a one-on-one interaction, which is Clarify the Message. I stated, "The intent of a message can be misinterpreted. If you are unsure if you have understood her correctly, you can clarify the way you interpreted the message by restating it in your own words."

As you know, clarity in messages goes both ways. I explained to Jennifer that she should also check with Alice to make sure she was understanding Jennifer’s messages clearly. I stated, "Watch her body language. If she looks puzzled, stop talking and ask her to clarify her understanding of what you said."

♦ Tip Three - Avoid Fighting Words
In addition to the tips of Relax and Listen, and Clarify the Message, the third tip I gave Jennifer was to Avoid Fighting Words. As you know, certain phrases, like "You always" or "You never," sound accusatory and put the listener in a defensive mode. I stated to Jennifer, "Take great care with the words you use. Avoid saying things like ‘You never call me back.’ Instead, you can try a phrase like, ‘When you didn’t return my call yesterday, I wondered if you were mad at me.’"

♦ Tip Four - Watch Your Intensity Level
For the fourth tip, I suggested to Jennifer that she Watch Her Intensity Level. I stated, "Be cautious when you find yourself discussing one of your favorite subjects or pet peeves." As you know, an adult with ADHD can get carried away with a topic because of his or her intensity. I explained to Jennifer that the three-hour long talk about the neighborhood was probably a little intense for Alice’s second day living there. I stated, "If you notice Alice backing off, try lightening up by asking a question or telling a joke."

♦ Tip Five - Slow Down
Finally, the fifth tip I offered Jennifer was to Slow Down. I have noticed, as I’m sure you have, that ADHD adults like Jennifer don’t want to wait for the natural progression of phases in developing relationships. They often try to get too close, too fast. I explained to Jennifer that it might be helpful to keep a calendar that tracks the progression of her friendships. I stated, "Don’t just pick up the phone to call Alice until you check your calendar. If it hasn’t been long since your last encounter, you may want to wait a day or two before calling."

Do you have an ADHD client who, like Alice, has trouble with one-on-one interfacing? Does your Alice work too hard to develop new friendships, or does he or she simply have too much intensity in his or her encounters? Would he or she benefit from any of the five tips of Relaxing and Listening, Clarifying the Message, Avoiding Fighting Words, Watching the Intensity Level, or Slowing Down?

In this section, we have discussed two difficulties adults with ADHD have in one-on-one interfacing. These two difficulties were working too hard and having too much intensity. We also discussed five tips for dealing with one-on-one interfacing. These five tips were Relaxing and Listening, Clarifying the Message, Avoiding Fighting Words, Watching the Intensity Level, and Slowing Down. Would it be beneficial to play this section for an ADHD client of yours in your next session? If so, consider turning the CD player off and making a note in the margin of your planner or on your computer day timer.

In the next section, we will discuss interactions on the job. We will also discuss the four challenging areas for the ADHD adult in the workplace. These four challenging areas were Written Rules, Unwritten Rules, Communication, and Managing ADHD Symptoms.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Friedman, S. R., Rapport, L. J., Lumley, M., Tzelepis, A., VanVoorhis, A., Stettner, L., & Kakaati, L. (2003). Aspects of social and emotional competence in adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychology, 17(1), 50–58.

Kofler, M. J., Harmon, S. L., Aduen, P. A., Day, T. N., Austin, K. E., Spiegel, J. A., Irwin, L., & Sarver, D. E. (2018). Neurocognitive and behavioral predictors of social problems in ADHD: A Bayesian framework. Neuropsychology, 32(3), 344–355.

Rapport, L. J., Friedman, S. L., Tzelepis, A., & Van Voorhis, A. (2002). Experienced emotion and affect recognition in adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychology, 16(1), 102–110.

Stanton, K., Forbes, M. K., & Zimmerman, M. (2018). Distinct dimensions defining the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale: Implications for assessing inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. Psychological Assessment, 30(12), 1549–1559.

Walther, C. A. P., Pedersen, S. L., Gnagy, E., Pelham, W. E., & Molina, B. S. G. (2019). Specificity of expectancies prospectively predicting alcohol and marijuana use in adulthood in the Pittsburgh ADHD longitudinal study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(2), 117–127.

What are two difficulties adults with ADHD face in a one-on-one interaction? To select and enter your answer go to Test

Section 12
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