ADHD & Interrupting People

ADHD & Interrupting People

 In this ADHD medically reviewed guide, we dive into common struggles around talking over people. We explore treatment options, including medication, and share relatable stories to help you cope. If you find the behavior annoying, don't lose sleep over it - help is available for both adults and kids with ADHD.

Published on
19/9/2022
Updated on
8/11/2023
estimated reading time
minutes

Written by

Lisa Batten

PhD in Psychology

Reviewed by

In this Article

Reviewed by

A word from our expert

Navigating ADHD and the Urge to Interrupt People

Have you ever had that awkward moment when you're in the middle of a conversation, and you just can't help but jump in? 🙊 Before you know it, you've interrupted yet another person. 

For many in the ADHD community (myself included) 🙋, our brains are wired to blurt things out before we even realize it's happening. So, if you've ever been called ‘annoying’, 'rude' or 'disruptive' for doing just that, you’re not alone.

I always knew I had a habit of butting in on conversations. 😬From family gatherings where I'd cut into adults' conversations to accidentally shouting out over other kids at school, it's a pattern I've seen repeatedly. It wasn't until I got my ADHD diagnosis that the pieces finally fell into place. 🥺As I learned more about my traits, I began to understand that my impulse to talk over people wasn't just a quirky character flaw but one of many ADHD symptoms.

If this all sounds familiar, you're in the right place. In this article, we'll explore why this happens and, more importantly, some actionable strategies to keep that impulsivity in check and the conversation flowing. ✅

Why Do People with ADHD Tend To Interrupt?

Believe it or not, this tendency to talk over people is a classic sign of ADHD. In fact, it's a perfect example of the impulsivity many of us diagnosed with it experience. It's like your brain is on fast-forward, and you just have to hit the 'pause' button on everyone else. ⏸️

So, why is it so common for people with ADHD?

Let's start with some medically reviewed ADHD basics. At its core, the ADHD brain is wired differently, making it prone to impulsivity and jumping in to speak. 😬 It's usually not rudeness; it's neurodiversity. Additionally, an ADHD diagnosis often includes a range of symptoms and traits, many of which make us prone to interrupting people. 

Let's unpack a few of them. ⬇️

Impulsivity

Impulsivity is a hallmark symptom of ADHD. You're in a conversation, and suddenly, a question pops into your head. Before you know it, your mouth is in gear before your brain can catch up. You might even jump in because you're afraid you'll forget what you were about to say. 🦘

(Mini ADHD advisor quote here)

Trouble With Object Permanence 

Object permanence isn't just for babies playing peek-a-boo; it's also something many adults with ADHD have trouble with. This means that when you have an interesting thought, you might be afraid you’ll forget it. Having a hard time holding onto these thoughts can lead to impulsive conversation interruptions.

Distractibility

We also tend to get easily distracted. Maybe someone dropped a glass, your phone buzzes, or a new thought races into your mind. 🚀You lose track of the conversation in a split second and chime in with something completely off-topic. Those distractions can cause us to single-handedly derail a conversation without realizing it.

Talking Fast

Have you ever noticed that some people with ADHD talk fast? It's like our words are trying to catch up with our brains. 🏃This rapid-fire talking can, unfortunately, cause us to inadvertently cut others off. We're not trying to be rude; our brains are just a few steps ahead regarding the conversation. 

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The Emotional Toll Of Interrupting

Whether at a family gathering, a work meeting, or just a casual hangout with good friends, the emotional toll of this habit can get heavy. 😞Although we know that an ADHD diagnosis comes with its symptoms, the emotional aftermath is not talked about enough. 

It's not just the embarrassment in the moment that stings; it's the lingering feelings afterward. You start to worry about being socially awkward or even pushing people away. Next thing you know, you're losing sleep at night thinking, 'why did I do that?' 😦

Constantly interrupting can also result in misunderstandings and strain relationships. Imagine you're hanging out with a good friend. You're mid-conversation, and suddenly, you cut them off to share an idea that popped into your head. 🖐️Sure, you're excited and think you're contributing to the conversation, but from their end, it might seem like you're not valuing what they say. Over time, these small moments can accumulate, creating a feeling that you're not really 'hearing' them. This can result in our friends avoiding us, which paves the way for rejection sensitivity.

How To Improve Communication & Enjoy Conversations Again

Understanding why we speak over people - and particularly why it's so prevalent among people with ADHD - can arm us with the tools to get better at managing it. 💪Diagnosis isn't just a label; it's important information that unlocks the first steps toward improving your conversations and communication skills. 🔓

Knowing you have a tendency to interrupt is good - it's self-awareness. 👍From there, it's all about moving forward with strategies that capitalize on your unique strengths. You're not just a 'person who interrupts,' you're someone who is ready to embrace a more thoughtful, less disruptive way of engaging with the world. 🥰

Here’s a few helpful tips I’ve found useful in social situations where I’m likely to accidentally speak over people. ⬇️

Notice Your Behavior

Let's start with a self-check. ✅Monitor how frequently you speak over others in conversation. This self-awareness is crucial because it'll guide you on the extent of the change needed.

Strategize Before You Talk

Before entering a meaningful conversation, it's beneficial to mentally prepare. Review strategies that have previously helped you minimize interruptions and have them at the ready. Preparation can make all the difference.

Commit to the Present Moment

One reason people with ADHD often find themselves speaking over people is due to their minds drifting away or latching onto so many things at once. The remedy? Commit to being fully present. Listen attentively, avoid multitasking, and employ affirmative body language like nodding and maintaining eye contact. 👁️

Master the Art Of Non-Verbal Language

Don't underestimate the power of body language and facial expressions. Recognizing these cues (such as the way someone moves their mouth) 👄can help you learn to watch out for when the other person has completed their point, making the conversation flow more naturally.

Use 'Mental Timeouts'

Take a short mental break if you feel the impulse to speak out of turn rising. Silently count to ten, allowing yourself that buffer to reconsider if interrupting is necessary. This also allows others who might be less outspoken to contribute.

Deep Breathing for Control

Controlled, deep breaths can help you stay focused and less likely to jump into conversations prematurely. This practice not only helps in self-regulation but also serves to lower stress levels and anxiety.

Note-Taking for Focus

Jotting down points ✍🏽during important discussions such as meetings can act as a dual reminder: first, to remember what's being said, and second, to signify that it's time to listen, not speak.

Check-In First

It sounds basic, but asking, 'can I just interrupt?' can make everyone feel respected and heard and gives other people the option to request you pause until they have finished speaking. 

Own Your Mistakes

If you find yourself accidentally speaking over someone, it's okay to acknowledge it immediately. A quick 'sorry for cutting you off' can be a relief to the other person and a cue for you to zip it and listen. 😂Owning up to your mistakes keeps the conversation respectful and honest.

Be Curious  

One surefire way to avoid interruptions is to ask as many questions as it is appropriate to do so. Instead of hopping in with your own ideas, invite the other person to elaborate on theirs. This shows you're not just hearing but actually listening, and it allows the conversation to go deeper and be more meaningful. 👨‍❤️‍👨

Use Visual Prompts

Need a nudge to remind yourself to hold back and listen? Use Post-it notes or other reminders around your workspace or home. A simple note written to yourself could be the mental tap on the shoulder you need to keep your focus.  🔎

Be Honest & Transparent

If you interrupt and notice it, just be open about why it happened. 'Sorry, my mind was racing ahead,' can often clear the air. Transparency can make conversations less fraught and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Sometimes, it's helpful to practice with a trusted friend or family member. This rehearsal can provide a 'safe space' to monitor your conversation habits, including those pesky interruptions. Plus, your practice partner can offer additional insights on when you tend to interrupt the most.

Try Out Executive Function Coaching 

For some folks, especially those diagnosed with ADHD, professional help can be a game-changer. Executive function coaching isn't just for business leaders; it's for anyone wanting to improve their communication skills. This can help identify why you interrupt and offer targeted strategies for improvement. So consider getting professional guidance to help you reach your full conversational potential. ✨

Conclusion

If you have ADHD and find yourself often interrupting people, it's not always a sign of rudeness or disinterest. In fact, it's often the exact opposite. You're excited, passionate, and engaged - your mind is buzzing with ideas, and you just can't hold off on sharing them. ✨

This enthusiasm makes you an incredibly engaging and exciting person to be around. You bring sparkle and vitality to conversations that many people find endearing. However, we also know it's not everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay. 👍 It's important to realize that while not everyone will appreciate your conversation style, plenty of people will. And they're the ones who will love you for exactly who you are - butting in and all. 😂

So, while it's good to work on being more mindful in conversations for broader social settings, remember to celebrate the positive sides of your ADHD brain. 🥳You're not just another face in the crowd; you make conversations come alive. And the world could always use a little more of that! 

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ADHD and Interrupting People: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do people with ADHD tend to interrupt others?

Yes, talking over others in conversations can be a common behavior among people with ADHD. It's not due to rudeness or a lack of interest - usually, it's because their brains are processing a multitude of thoughts, feelings, and ideas at a rapid pace. Because of this, individuals with ADHD can find it hard to focus exclusively on what the other person is saying. Their minds might drift, or they get excited and eager to share their thoughts, leading them to interrupt. This ADHD tendency has been medically reviewed and recognized as part of the condition's symptomatic behaviors.

Why does ADHD make me interrupt people?

ADHD affects your mental health and cognitive processes uniquely. For example, you might feel anxious about forgetting a point you want to make, so you jump in before you forget. Or you may find it hard to focus because your mind is buzzing with other things, making you impatient to get your own words in. This behavior is often fueled by impulsivity, another hallmark of ADHD. It's not that you're intentionally trying to shut down the conversation; you're just operating on a different frequency, which sometimes comes out as talking over people.

How do I stop my ADHD from interrupting?

You can practice a few techniques to curb your tendency to talk over people. First, set alarms to remind you to pause and listen during conversations. Using 'mental timeouts' to count to ten silently can also help you focus before you speak. Deep breathing exercises can aid focus and mental health. Medication could be a treatment option for some, but consult healthcare services for a tailored plan. Remember, practice makes perfect!

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