Reply To: When I can’t stand anyone at work, am I the problem?

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Allison Russo

This reply was originally posted by user rae16 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

I’ve had similar experiences, but was fortunate enough for a number of years to work for an employer who was not judgmental, but more focused on solving problems, and who accepted me for who I was. It was nice. Since then (because my old boss retired and the company closed) things have not been so great for me at work. It is entirely possible that the people you work with are not very nice people, but that could happen anywhere. There are a lot of dysfunctional workplaces. I reached a point where I didn’t care whose “fault” it was, but decided that if I was that uncomfortable, I should move on.

I have also struggled with feeling sensitive to the emotional atmosphere and feeling constantly criticized. There may be validity to the “rejection sensitive dysphoria” theory; I’ve certainly met enough adults with ADHD to know that most of us have internalized decades of feelings of inadequacy. One thing that has helped me is therapy with a highly qualified (PhD) psychologist who has about 40 years of experience working with families and individuals with ADHD. I had seen a number of therapists with Masters’ degrees over the years, and they were never very helpful; they don’t really know enough. So, that’s one thing. I have been trying to learn to distance myself from the reactions of others. I have no control over their behavior. I can only decide how I will respond, and if I am upset to the point that I can’t respond constructively, I remove myself from the situation until I calm down. That is not always possibly at work, but if a pretend bathroom break is called for, that’s one strategy.

I just saw a great video on ADD Crusher where Alan Brown interviews a test pilot about how to handle an emergency. It’s worth checking out. It starts with, “maintain control of the aircraft.” I thought that was funny, but it is helpful to do whatever is necessary to avoid reacting negatively in the moment. I don’t know if that helps at all, since you’ve probably thought it through, but you are definitely not alone. I think the workplace is becoming more obnoxious as time goes on. I’ve seen revolting on the job behavior from employers and managers since my old job ended a few years ago. There is less civility. There is more bullying, gossiping, blaming. That part is real. And it takes energy to stay calm and polite around people who act like jerks – feel entitled to act like jerks – for hours at a stretch. But it’s worked better for me since I’ve come to appreciate (though not always remember) it is not personal. Nothing is personal.