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Paying Attention During Conversation
"I sometimes laugh late at jokes or have to ask people to repeat what they said. How can I make my friends (and coworkers) understand that I'm not an idiot, even though I often miss comments or take a little longer to process information?"
Whenever possible, do what you can to minimize distraction. Try not to eat in noisy restaurants, for example, and try to position yourself so you face away from windows, the TV screen, or other sources of distraction that are in the room where you're conversing.
When you miss something, there's no shame in asking someone to repeat it. It's better to ask than to miss an important comment, or reply off-topic, because you guessed wrong about what the person has said. Go ahead and say, "I'm sorry, I missed that last part. Can you repeat it?" or "I got caught up in another thought there. I don't want to miss what you said, so please tell me again."
Ari Tuckman, Psy.D., MBA, is a psychologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. He is the author of More Attention, Less Deficit, and Understand Your Brain, Get More Done. Dr. Tuckman also has a podcast about ADHD that has over one hundred episodes and more than two million downloads and speaks about succeeding with ADHD at CHADD each year. He is a former vice president of ADDA and now has a practice in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he works with adults and adolescents with attention challenges.