How to Turn Conflict into Connection: A Guide for People with ADHD

People with ADHD may face more difficulties than others when dealing with disagreements in their relationships, as they are bound to happen sooner or later. ADHD can affect how you communicate, listen, empathise, and compromise with others. It can also make you more likely to react emotionally, act impulsively, and get defensive. These difficulties can lead to misunderstandings, arguments, and resentment in your personal and professional relationships.

However, conflict doesn’t have to be destructive or damaging. Rather than seeing it as a problem, it can be a chance to connect more deeply, learn new things, and grow as a person. The key is to learn how to manage conflict healthily and constructively. Here are some tips and tools for people with ADHD to resolve conflict effectively:

  • Recognise your triggers. –

Identify what situations or behaviours trigger your negative emotions or reactions. For example, you might feel angry when someone interrupts, criticises, or ignores your needs. Knowing your triggers can help you prepare for them and avoid overreacting.

  • Take a time-out. –

When you feel upset or overwhelmed by a conflict, take a break to calm down and collect your thoughts. You can say something like, “I need some time to think about this”, or “I’m feeling too emotional right now to talk”. Then, find a quiet place to breathe deeply, relax your muscles, or do something else that helps you cope with stress.

  • Reflective listening. –

Listening is a crucial skill for resolving conflict. It shows that you care about the other person’s feelings and perspective and are willing to work together to find a solution. However, listening can be challenging for people with ADHD, who may get distracted, interrupt, or jump to conclusions. To improve your listening skills, try reflective listening. Reflective listening means repeating what the other person said in your own words to check that you understood them correctly. For example:

– Person A: “I’m agitated that you forgot our anniversary. It makes me feel like you don’t care about me.”

– Person B: “So you’re feeling hurt and unappreciated because I didn’t remember our special day.”

Reflective listening helps to clarify the message, avoid misunderstandings, and validate the other person’s emotions. It also gives you time to process what they said and think of a response.

  • Express yourself clearly and respectfully. –

When it’s your turn to talk, use “I” statements to express your thoughts and feelings. For example, instead of “You never listen to me” or “You’re always late”, say “I feel frustrated when I don’t feel heard”, or “I get anxious when you don’t show up on time”. Avoid blaming, accusing, or name-calling, as these can escalate the conflict and hurt the other person’s feelings.

  • Focus on solutions. –

Instead of focusing on what went wrong or who is to blame, let’s work together to find a solution. Brainstorm ideas that can meet both your needs and preferences. Be open-minded and willing to compromise. For example, if you have different opinions on spending money, you might agree on a budget or a savings plan that works for both of you.

  • Apologising and forgiving. –

Sometimes, resolving conflict requires apologising or forgiving. Apologising means admitting that you made a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings and expressing regret and remorse. Forgiving means letting go of anger and resentment towards someone who wronged you and restoring trust and goodwill. Both apologising and forgiving can be challenging for people with ADHD, who may struggle with guilt, shame, pride, or stubbornness. However, they are essential for healing and moving on from conflict. Here are some tips for apologising and forgiving:

– Be sincere: Apologise or forgive from the heart, not from pressure. Say how you feel and avoid being defensive or manipulative.

– Be specific: Say what you did wrong or what hurt you and how it affected you or them. Don’t be vague or general.

– Be respectful: Be kind and respectful, even when angry or hurt. Don’t use sarcasm, insults, or blame. Don’t expect them to respond right away or at all.

– Be constructive: Plan to change your behaviour or avoid the same problem. Show that you want to learn and improve.

Apologising and forgiving can help you rebuild trust and harmony after a conflict. It can also help you grow and have more empathy and resilience.

  • The STAR method. –

Another helpful tool for resolving conflict is the STAR method. STAR stands for Stop, Think, Act, Review. It is a simple way to slow down and think before reacting to a heated situation. Here is how it works:

– Stop: When you notice that you are getting angry or frustrated, pause and take a deep breath. It will help you relax and prevent you from making a mistake that could hurt you or others.

– Think: Ask yourself what the problem is, what you are feeling, thinking, and what you want. Identify both parties’ underlying needs and interests and avoid blaming or judging.

– Act: Choose a positive action that will help resolve the conflict or improve the situation. It could be expressing your feelings and needs, asking questions, requesting, apologising, or suggesting a compromise.

– Review: After you act, check the results. Did it help or hurt? Did it bring you closer or push you further apart? If it didn’t work, try something else.

The STAR method helps you to be more mindful and intentional in your communication and to avoid impulsive or aggressive reactions that can escalate the conflict.

It’s hard for everyone to resolve conflicts, but people with ADHD may face more difficulties than others. However, using these tips and tools, you can learn to manage conflict healthily and constructively. Remember that conflict is not always destructive; it can also be a chance to learn more about yourself and others, to grow as a person, and to strengthen your bond with your loved ones.

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