ADHD Interrupting

Addressing Interruptive Behavior in ADHD

Individuals with ADHD often grapple with interrupting others during conversations, a direct offshoot of the impulsivity that characterizes the condition. Our discussion zeroes in on this behavioral tendency, aiming to demystify why those with ADHD may frequently interject and how they can cultivate more mindful communication habits. It's a journey towards more harmonious interactions, informed by an understanding of ADHD's intricate dynamics.

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Reviewed by

Lisa Batten

PhD in Psychology
In this Article
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ADHD & Interrupting: People And Conversations

One of the things I sometimes feel ashamed about in having ADHD is my impulsive behavior of cutting people off when they are talking or busy doing something. I want their full attention on me when I try to say something out of my head. Before having my ADHD diagnosis, I tend to suffer a lot from this ADHD trait, and I didn’t understand how my brain works.

Impulsivity can be defined as doing something as soon as we have the urge to do it and not think about the consequences. Our impulsive behaviors can cause us to do many things without carefully weighing the pros and cons. Such behaviors include making impulsive purchases, saying yes to extreme activities, and driving recklessly. It can also make us act without thinking about how our words or actions might affect others negatively. For many people with ADHD, impulsivity is one of the main symptoms we have to deal with daily. 😔

since I was a kid, I've always interrupted people a lot...
The Mini ADHD Coach Medical Advisor says: “Impulsivity is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of ADHD. Due to dysregulations in an area of the brain called the frontal cortex, people with ADHD do not have the same level of control over their behavior as their neurotypical peers. This means that even when you want to think before acting, it’s not always an option. Do your best to communicate your intentions and practice forgiveness for yourself and others when impulsivity negatively affects your life”

As someone who wasn't diagnosed yet with ADHD during my earlier years, I didn't notice that I tend to interrupt people. It didn't occur to me that what I was doing was rude until someone pointed it out to me and made me realize that cutting people and conversations so that I can speak can make someone feel bad.

If I Interrupted You, My Apologies. It Wasn't My Intention 😔

When I was young, I often saw my parents assisting guests and relatives during family gatherings to make them feel more comfortable. They often entertain them and have a little chit chat with them to make them feel more welcome. As a kid, I didn't understand these concepts yet and had a hard time grasping why my parents were talking to them when there were more important things that we could do. I didn't know that they were trying to be polite and make our guests feel comfortable.

I interrupted people at school, my friends... everybody

What I would do is interrupt them so that they would shift their attention to me. Sometimes, as a child, I'd listen to their conversations and butt in when I could. My parents would smile and excuse me for a moment, then explain that what I am doing is rude. 🥺 Back in our days, children weren't supposed to listen to the adults when they were talking. More so, interrupt their conversation.

There were so many questions in my brain about those incidents at that time. I felt like I was so annoying back then and let my parents down because of my behavior. The same situation happens at school as well.

Getting Punished And Having Disciplinary Actions

During junior school, my teacher discussed an essential topic in our subject, mathematics. As someone who wasn't mathematically inclined and struggled a lot with numbers, the first thing that came to mind is to be honest and tell the teacher to repeat what she just said in the hopes that I could understand it better. But, I knew that once I asked her to do so, my classmates would make fun of me and label me as a 'slow learner.'

I was often told that my interruptions were annoying...

So instead of saying that, I would blurt out random answers 🙋‍♀️ and hoped that the teacher would get the message that I didn't understand what she was trying to say. The trouble I had in understanding her lesson made me act out and disrupt the class. Because of that, I always felt anxious and took deep breaths, and then interrupted her when she's talking. I got scolded and have had so many disciplinary actions because of my impulsive behavior throughout my school years.

It dawned on me that what I was doing was wrong when our teacher called my parents to explain my "bad behavior" in school. I often get some remarks about how good I am, BUT there's something off with me.

It Takes One Good Friend To Make It Better

When I feel down and think like everything goes against my way, I often take long walks and get upset about my behavior. The things that are happening weren't my intention, and these interruptions and impulsive behavior of mine are just a manifestation of something bigger inside my brain.

I lose track of my focus, and my struggles last a long time. That's when I shared my social situations with a good friend, who I trust the most. ❤️ She admitted that she was a victim of my tendency to interrupt people, and she thought I had no idea about it. She told me that she was worried about me and my impulsive behavior.

over the years, I felt more and more ashamed of this traits...

At first, I was afraid because I could feel her disappointment in me. But, as we talked more about it, she shared some tips on how I can control my urges to butt in and interrupt people's conversation. She told me that cutting off people while they are conversing with each other can be rude, especially if you're not part of the discussion.

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The Guilt And Shame of Having This ADHD Symptom

After that “confrontation” with my friend, I admit that I felt off when she told me about my apparent behavior of interrupting people. I know it's for my awareness, and she was just concerned with me and the relationships I had with my family and friends if I continued having this kind of behavior.

I was afraid that I might lose friends or that people would start to get distant from me because of my social awkwardness. The guilt and shame I felt inside grew even more, and I felt distant because I was masking this trait that I had developed. I grew impatient when I wanted to talk and blurt out words without thinking about them first.

but when I was assessed for ADHD at 29, I finally understood

Without having the knowledge and reason as to why this impulsivity keeps on happening, I started to seek more helpful advice 👩‍⚕️ and strategies to prevent these things from recurring. My mental health was affected because I don't know where I should stand. Should I just watch people talk with each other and never butt in to prevent hurting their feelings? Or should I release all the energy I have by participating in the discussion?

The Life-Changing ADHD Diagnosis

After years of struggle, self-reflection, and too many questions left in my head, I decided to take an ADHD diagnosis to help me understand my mental health. I didn't have the slightest idea about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the related symptoms a person can experience. I trusted my instinct and went straight to my mental health professional. After a few sessions and interviews, I was welcomed to the ADHD community. 😘

knowing that this was normal behavior for someone with ADHD helped me feeling less ashamed

The relief that I felt after the diagnosis was overwhelming. The doctor explained to me all the ADHD symptoms that I am going through, and from there, I realized that impulsivity can be one of the most common traits a person with ADHD can experience. I was categorized with the Combined ADHD Type. It means that I have Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentations and Inattentive Traits as well.

The explanations and additional information that I obtained gave me such relief that I felt a huge weight was off of my shoulders. Other things made much more sense now, especially since I understand that what I exhibit isn't just a "bad habit" but a symptom of my mental health condition. I know that it will be a long road ahead, but I am more than willing to take on the challenge. 😉

Hey, Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself 😘

One thing that I learned after having a lead on what I struggle with is that these behaviors are typical to many people with ADHD. It doesn't make me feel any better, but it made me realize that I shouldn't be too hard whenever I make a mistake or say something that I shouldn't have.

Knowing the struggles of many people with ADHD also makes me understand more about what I should do to manage my impulsivity. I started to be more patient with myself and the people around me. I try to take a step back and think about what I want to say next before saying it aloud.

I know that there will be days or moments wherein my ADHD symptoms would get the best of me, but as long as I am continuously improving and striving to become a better version of myself, I know that I am on the right track.

Things You Can Do For People To Understand That Your Impulsivity Is A Symptom

After recalling my stories while I was writing this blog, I thought of what I should have done to express myself better and prevent myself from interrupting conversations. I realized that to have better relationships with people around you, having good communication is the key. 💪

Here are some tips that I want to share with you in case you experience the same struggle as mine:

  • When you notice that you have interrupted conversations with others, acknowledge that you have done so and apologize.
  • To manage your impulsive talking, try to practice thinking first before saying anything. You can also try breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques to calm yourself down.
  • It would also be helpful if you let the person know that you have ADHD or any other mental health condition and you have the tendency to struggle with impulsive talking.
  • Lastly, don't be too hard on yourself. Remember that you are doing your best, which matters the most.

People with ADHD are sometimes labeled as "disruptive" or "annoying" when we are just trying to cope with our neurodivergent condition the best way we can. So the next time you encounter someone with ADHD, try to be more understanding and patient. We are all fighting our own battles, so a little kindness can go a long way. ❤️

Things that can help: Acknowledge, Apologize, and Explain if you feel like it.

ADHD and Interrupting People: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do people with ADHD tend to interrupt people? Why does it happen?

Many people with ADHD have hyperactive-impulsive traits. That means they might do things without thinking too much about the consequences of their actions. Butting in a conversation or interrupting people can be a manifestation of their impulsivity.

Why is interrupting people a concern?

Frequently interrupting people or butting in their conversation can be a problem because it might cause misunderstandings. When you interrupt people, they might feel like you think lightly of their opinion so much so that you don’t give them the chance to talk. The misunderstandings can cause problems in interpersonal relationships.

What should I do to stop myself from interrupting people when they are talking?

If you haven’t already done so, please consult a mental health expert. They might give you an ADHD diagnosis and explain that your impulsive talking is one of its symptoms. If you already know that you have ADHD, it might be a good idea to let people know about your condition. Communicate with them that you might have the tendency to interrupt, but it’s not your intention to offend them.

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