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Please Respond! The ADHD Art Of Emailling


“ … I’ve been one poor correspondent
I’ve been too, too hard to find

But that doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind … ”

Sister Golden Hair ~ 1975 Gerry Beckley

There is no reason to expect someone with ADHD to respond to your emails. Of course, there’s no reason to think that they won’t, either. Sound conflicting? It gets more so.

No two ADHDers are alike. We all have a pool of symptoms to draw on. We all have some of those symptoms. And while we may share a large number of symptoms with someone else, there is no way that we will share them to the same degree.

Furthermore, life experience and social setting mean that we have different perceptions of the degree to which these symptoms disrupt our lives, different ways of reacting to our symptoms, and even different tools at our disposal for those reactions.

Let’s check the mail, shall we?

“Here’s a letter from … ” We get email. Why? Because we are popular people. Okay, I’m fully aware that much of that mail is from online pharmacies and fake watch sales organizations. But most of us still get valid email. And we all want to respond to our friends and co-workers, right? But do we? Well ….. ?

I almost always respond to friends immediately. Co-workers get the same treatment. Bosses are a different story, I usually need time to find the information they’re requesting and that gives me the opportunity to get distracted. I’m saying that I do respond immediately, if I know the answer, I get lost if I have to look it up.

Last week I received an email from a reader and I responded as soon as I got it. Through the course of our correspondence she told me that she might not respond as quickly as I do. She explained that when she writes an email, she goes through endless rewrites in order to have it appear just right.

I also do this to some extent, but not to the point of it delaying me in my response.

What’s at play here is her personal dance with anxiety, hyperfocus, and perfectionist tendencies. And it’s all well and good to be able to identify those things. Her identification of these issues means that she can work on them; if she feels that the problem is worthy of her attention and is a higher priority than other problems she feels she needs to work on.

But identifying these issues is important for me as well. I know that her correspondence may take some time, and I can be accepting of that. I recognize the things in her ADHD mind that cause this to happen as things I’m dealing with also. I don’t deal with them the same and I don’t endure the same degree of influence on me.

A funny thing happened on the way to the mail server …

Of all the issues that impact this area of daily life, anxiety plays the biggest role. She must produce the perfect email, I must produce the promptest response. She worries about how her correspondence will be received, I about when it will be received.

How do you tell if someone has ADHD?

There are people all over the world who return emails promptly, some of them have ADHD. There are people all over the world who are very poor at replying to their emails, some of them have ADHD. For those of us who have ADHD, the issues that affect our ability to reply to email are exacerbated by our disorder. You can’t tell an ADHDer by whether or not they reply to email, but there’s a clue in whether or not they worry about replying to email, regardless of the email’s importance …

Please Respond! The ADHD Art Of Emailling

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2012). Please Respond! The ADHD Art Of Emailling. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from


Last updated: 6 Nov 2012
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Nov 2012
Published on All rights reserved.