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Do as I Say, Not as I Do

As a blogger, I have a God-given right to set aside one out of every five posts to rant about one of my pet peeves. In my last post, I exercised that right by complaining about people who communicate in meandering ways without getting to the point, especially teachers who lecture this way in classroom settings.

One commenter pointed out that people with ADHD can be prone to long, rambling monologues themselves.

ContradictionThat’s definitely true. There are many reasons someone with ADHD might do so – forgetting the original point of what they were saying, suddenly remembering some tangentially related detail, irrepressible enthusiasm for whatever they’re talking about, disorganized thoughts, etc.

So am I a hypocrite for complaining about people who talk without getting to the point, when plenty of ADHDers are guilty of talking without getting to the point?

I’ll leave the internet to judge on that. But the main idea from my post still stands: ADHDers will usually be appreciative if you communicate information in a way that’s concise, to-the-point, and doesn’t place unnecessary demands on our ability to sustain attention.

I’m revisiting this because there’s a more general point here: the best way to work with an ADHDer isn’t necessarily to act like you have ADHD yourself.

In other words, yeah, we might go on rambling monologues, but that doesn’t mean the best way to communicate with us is to go on rambling monologues yourself. Yeah, we might fail to plan ahead, but that doesn’t mean we want to be in workplaces where everyone plans as little as we do. We might be messy, but we don’t necessarily want roommates who are messy too.

In fact, sometimes we appreciate people who have organizational skills that complement our lack thereof. And the hope is that we’ll bring some other strengths to the table that will complement your weaknesses as well.

That also doesn’t mean we expect everyone we encounter to have skills that compensate for our weaknesses. Generally, we try to do what we can to cope with our symptoms ourselves. Ideally, we’re understanding of people who have similar struggles as we do.

The point is that when we encounter people who do have strengths that help compensate for some of our struggles, we appreciate that. The way to work most productively with an ADHDer is not necessarily to do as they do!

Image: Flickr/Jon Dawson

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Do as I Say, Not as I Do. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Apr 2019
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