Distractions, they’re my nemesis, the bane of my existence. They sometimes make conversation with me a long, tedious thing for those engaged in them with me. I try to be fairly focused when talking to people, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t insert random, unnecessary observations.
In instances where I’ve met someone socially, you couldn’t get a decent history of our conversation from either myself or my victim. I can’t remember and they either are in the same boat or they are non-ADHDers, which means they probably couldn’t keep up with my whirling Rolodex of sentence fragments and random topics.
When I meet someone for a conversation, either structured or casual, there are things that the person I’m meeting with can do to keep me on track. But can I ask someone to make concessions for me, for my focus. I can’t say “Would you mind if we turn off that air [conditioner/photo copier/radio/whatever]? It’s just going to distract me.” Okay, maybe I could, but I hate to start out a meeting or conversation by asking for something, especially if the meeting is to ask for other things. Starting to ask for something by asking for something personal doesn’t work well.
I know a few more things now than I did before. I try to do some things in advance as a favor to myself and to the person I’m meeting. I take medication every day. I make sure I have done all my homework if I am to be a knowledgeable source of information. I try to prepare myself for the meeting, going over what might be needed from me. And I try to prepare myself to be ready to focus.
That last one isn’t always a success. I think to myself in advance, “You should try to do a topic check every couple of minutes to see if you’ve hijacked the conversation.” But there are times when I’m leaving a meeting and I’m wondering why I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to.
At these times, I often replay the meeting. Invariably, I realize I have derailed my plans or the plans of the person I’ve met with.
I’ve picked up a couple more tricks to share. If the meeting has a purpose or agenda, and it’s being held in a public place, I try to get there first and find a quiet spot. I set myself up in a seat facing the wall, with my back to the crowd. I take inventory of all the distracting things in the place so that, hopefully, there will be nothing “new” to sidetrack me.
And if I’m still having trouble, I have no problem asking that the meeting be sped up or abbreviated. There is no sense to wasting someones time, and if the meeting isn’t going to succeed than that’s what I’d be doing. It’s better to succeed at some of your agenda than to fail at all of it.
I’ll cite health concerns saying “I’m not feeling well and I feel it’s affecting my concentration.” I’m not lying. And I’m certainly doing it for the right reasons.
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Last reviewed: 22 Oct 2012