Are You Afraid of Expressing Yourself?

Q:

"Although I can be very passionate about things, I find it difficult to express myself on a deep level, especially in casual conversation. I consider myself intelligent, but often I am reluctant to open my mouth, for fear that I’ll look like an idiot. Please help."

A:

As you know, ADHD can affect your ability to demonstrate your intelligence to the world. First, try pausing for a moment to collect your thoughts before responding. This sounds simple enough, but it isn’t easy for ADHD folks. Practice with a close friend or family member, someone you feel comfortable with. Try to come up with two or three main points before saying anything. If the setting is appropriate (you’re talking on the phone, or you’re in a meeting), scribbling some brief notes for yourself can keep you on track.

If there are certain topics that your friends discuss regularly, like global warming, spend some time thinking about them. Listen to the news or do some online research to help you flesh out your own ideas. You’ll be better prepared to weigh in the next time that topic comes up.

If conversation turns to a topic you haven’t thought a lot about, it’s OK to admit that. Offer to get back to the person, or ask what they think, then play off of their ideas. Don’t feel that you must have all the answers.

Ari Tuckman, Psy.D., MBA, is the author of More Attention, Less Deficit, and Understand Your Brain, Get More Done. Tuckman speaks about succeeding with ADHD at CHADD each year. He has a practice in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he works with adults and adolescents with attention challenges.

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