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Navigating ADHD
with Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW, ACC

Dear Coach: Should I Tell My Coworkers I Have ADHD?

Dear Coach,

I work in a very supportive office environment and have a great relationship with my boss and co-workers. However, my ADHD does make work difficult and I often miss deadlines or drop the ball on important projects which makes me feel like I’m letting the people I work with down. Should I tell them I have ADHD?

The decision to disclose your ADHD diagnosis at work is a personal one but should not be entered into lightly. While it might be tempting to spill the fact that you have ADHD to your coworkers, thus providing a reason for your missteps, doing so may also have unintended consequences.

Although ADHD is so very common, misconceptions abound

One of the dangers of disclosing your ADHD diagnosis at work, regardless of how supportive and understanding your coworkers are, is the fact that ADHD continues to be greatly misunderstood. And even if your coworkers are well-intentioned, they may be completely unaware that they are also largely misinformed where ADHD is concerned. You don’t want to find yourself getting passed over for promotions or important work assignments because those you work with conclude you must be scattered and unreliable given your ADHD diagnosis.

A better tactic is to ask for support without mentioning your ADHD

If you find you are struggling at work as a result of ADHD-related challenges, there are ways to get the support that you need without disclosing your diagnosis.

Managing distractions…

Color-code your incoming emails based on the sender so you’ll know which emails need to be attended to asap and which can wait.

Close your office door to send the message that you need quiet and privacy.

Politely let your coworkers know that if they have something that needs your immediate attention, to call or come by your office instead of sending an email.

If possible, make use of noise cancelling headphones, earplugs, or music or try working in a different area to minimize distractions

Time management…

Make your time visible by using a planner and/or desk or wall calendar to highlight important meetings, project deadlines, etc.

Do some preparation the day before to help ensure you get to the office on time- lay out your clothes; pack a lunch; put your keys, wallet, purse, bag by the door; etc.

Prioritize tasks using the 3-3-3 Rule: Does this need my attention within the next 3 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days?

Ask “When do you need this by?” to help you prioritize and manage your time effectively

Take the amount of time you THINK it will take to complete a task and triple it: If you think it will take 10 minutes, give yourself 30

Focus, memory, and productivity…

Take notes, use fidgets, and/or ask questions during meetings to help sustain focus and improve your recollection of details

Work collaboratively with coworkers when possible or schedule brief “check-ins” to help you stay on track

Be sure to take breaks throughout the day to preserve your mental and physical energy

Seek out professional help and support….

Navigating ADHD-related challenges at work can be particularly tricky, especially if you feel you have no one you can talk to or consult with. Luckily, there are some great resources available where you can get important information as well as support.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free and confidential expert information regarding workplace accommodations and disability issues.

There are also ADHD coaches and specialized support groups devoted to workplace issues where you can openly share your concerns and receive feedback from those who understand ADHD-related challenges.

Before you disclose your ADHD diagnosis at work, make sure to consult with professionals familiar with ADHD who can advise and support you in making the best decision for your particular situation. Oftentimes, ADHD-related challenges can be effectively managed without making your diagnosis known in the workplace with the right type of help.

Image: Pixabay/Mohamed_hassan

Dear Coach: Should I Tell My Coworkers I Have ADHD?

Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW, ACC

Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW, ACC is a social worker, ADHD consultant, and certified life coach. Her practice, Lotus Life Coaching Services, provides coaching services for adults, youth, and families impacted by ADD/ADHD and executive function challenges.

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APA Reference
van Rikxoort, N. (2019). Dear Coach: Should I Tell My Coworkers I Have ADHD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Dec 2019
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