ADHD & Conflict

One of the challenges an adult with ADHD may experience is how to handle conflicts and confrontations. What in ADHD affects a person’s ability to resolve conflicts? Are there ways to cope with it? Here’s what you need to know about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Conflicts.

Table of Contents

ADHD & Conflict

1. Do People with ADHD Often Struggle with Conflict and Confrontation?

        ~ How Do Adults With ADHD Deal with Conflict?

        ~ What Makes You Struggle with Conflicts?

        ~ Inattention And Staying Focused

        ~ Forgetfulness

        ~ Talking Fast and Non-Verbal Communication

        ~ Emotional Dysregulation and Handling Difficult Situations

        ~ Running Every Scenario On Our ADHD Brain

        ~ What to Do When Conflict Arises?

ADHD & Conflict FAQs

Do People with ADHD Often Struggle with Conflict and Confrontation?

Many things can be affected by the neurodivergent condition, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD can cause a person struggles that may affect how they function in their daily lives. Difficulties in staying focused, inattention and impulsivity issues, and the tendency to make careless mistakes, are just a few of the ADHD symptoms we can experience🥺.

There are times when people who know less about us don't understand our struggles at all. There are moments when they’ll continue to push harder on us, even though the difficulties we are experiencing seem too much already. Sometimes, conflict arises when other people take what we are going through lightly and downplay our struggles because such things come easy for them. There are also moments when it can be our fault, and we are afraid to admit it because we fear being judged or misunderstood😭.

When adults with ADHD (like me) are faced with conflicts and confrontations because of how ADHD affects them, it can be challenging. Aside from the fact that we may have caused the conflict due to our tendency to make mistakes, the intense emotions that the situation may cause can be overwhelming. 

Worse, when we are in the middle of the confrontation, it can be hard to focus on the discussion or keep track of the arguments😵. Plus, if we are under the support of ADHD medications, our response can be delayed as we may need a longer time to process what's happening. Furthermore, when many things run in our ADHD brain, our response may not be as good as they can be. This can make the situation more complicated.

How Do Adults With ADHD Deal with Conflict?

An ADHD brain 🧠 processes thoughts differently. Likewise, the emotions of a person with this neurodivergent condition can feel like an ADHD roller coaster of sentiments. So, when we're in the middle of a conflict, it can be hard to keep calm and think straight. We can feel extreme guilt, anger, sadness, or anxiety, and it can be hard to manage everything we're feeling. Sometimes, we want to explain ourselves and make things better, but end up making things worse than before. Likewise, it can also come down to a point where we accept everything and avoid conflict because we struggle to deal with one.

When we are subjected to these problematic situations, we might not be ready for the consequences, especially since we cannot control ourselves during conflict resolution. We may end up bursting into tears 😭 because of too much anger or emotions, saying things we don't mean, or being too defensive because we feel the shame and the need to protect ourselves. Many people with ADHD may experience these things, and there's nothing wrong with them. It’s just that sometimes, our Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can get the best of us during these situations.

I know many couples with at least one ADHD partner who struggles to deal with conflicts. Unsurprisingly, it has affected their relationships because they cannot resolve their problems within themselves. Our  difficulty in managing conflicts, and unpredictable ways of responding to confrontations aren't limited to both husband and wife relationships. It can also happen between you and your friends, family, and colleagues😨. But, what does ADHD (previously known as Attention Deficit Disorder) have to do with how we handle conflicts and confrontations?

What Makes You Struggle with Conflicts?

After an ADHD diagnosis, you might have done a lot of blog search 📱 and read more articles on dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. You may also have the chance to get to know more about your neurodivergent disorder through your mental health professional or people that have the same ADHD struggle as you. They may have added great information and advice to help you resolve your problems. But I'd like to speak more about the things that make you struggle when it comes to conflict.

Inattention And Staying Focused

ADHD's brain activity can sometimes influence how we handle arguments. When there's too much going on inside our heads, we tend to stress over these things and think of them during the whole course of confrontation. It can be hard to focus on the situation when we constantly think about what to say next or how the other person would react. We might even get lost in our thoughts. In some instances, we’re still processing the information while the other person is already done speaking😵.

having trouble focusing during an argument

Inattention symptoms can hinder us from thinking straight during confrontations and conflicts. We might be aware of the arguments thrown at us, but we seem to get lost in everything that goes inside our ADHD brains. Conflicts may overwhelm us. When it does, our initial response would be to overthink things and  ignore everything else that follows.

This can be a problem because we might not get to hear the whole story and understand the situation. We might also ignore what the other person is saying, eventually leading to more problems. Inattention during conflicts can make us seem like we're not interested in solving things or that we don't care about the situation, which may be misunderstood by the co-worker we have arguments with or the friend we're trying to patch things up with 🥺.

Forgetfulness

It is tough to resolve conflict with anyone if you tend to forget the details most of the time. Imagine being asked by your spouse about the details of something you did last week that made him furious. And as much as you want to deal with the situation, you seem to have forgotten what you have done😅. This makes it hard for us to remember the whole story and offer a solution to the problem, leading to more arguments and confrontations.

forgetting the details of specific events you want to discuss

I've been in this situation before, and I know how frustrating it is when you want to apologize or make up for something in your relationship, but you can't seem to remember what you have done wrong. It feels like reopening old wounds that are better off left untouched. But the thing is, we need to deal with the conflict for us to move on from it. And if we can't remember the problem, then it becomes more difficult for us to offer a conflict resolution that is satisfactory for both parties.

When other people do us wrong, the typical reaction is to be upset and have hurt feelings. Even if we decide to resolve the conflict and confront them about the matter that made us feel that way, the details may already be lost in our brains. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can affect our short-term memory and all the information we store inside of it.

Talking Fast and Non-Verbal Communication

One of the most important things to consider when communicating with the general population is one’s ability to understand what people are saying. Also, remember that most people will look more into the way you speak rather than the message you convey👌. The thing is, for many people with ADHD, we might find it hard to be aware that we talk fast sometimes or have difficulty relaying our messages effectively.

trying to express yourself better but you end up speaking fast

Talking fast can be an adult ADHD trait that we tend to experience. As we want to talk things over and solve the problem right away, we might talk too fast. Hence, we might not notice that we’re talking gibberish unless the other person tells us so. Sometimes, the adrenaline rush is just affecting us to talk more and come up with ideas, one after another.

Another thing that gets affected by ADHD is our pragmatic language and non-verbal communication cues we use when talking to other people. This includes our facial expressions, gestures, and overall body language🙋‍♀️. We might not be aware that we sometimes have a blank stare, which can make us look uninterested in the conversation. The way we interrupt the flow of conversation, blurt out unnecessary comments and responses to the other person, and how we move our bodies, are some of the aspects to be mindful of. When we tend to do these things in front of neurotypical people, they might tell us that we have bad behavior, further complicating conversations, conflicts, and relationships.

Emotional Dysregulation and Handling Difficult Situations

When we think we aren't in control of the situation, several things might happen. Either we become too upset and burst into tears because the emotions are too overwhelming, storm off, be angry and confront the other party without collecting all thoughts and information first, or flee and avoid conflicts and try as much as we can not face the problem.

Emotions are sometimes affected when conflict arises. There are moments when we seem to get easily angry with other people, and we tend to say hurtful things that we regret later on😔. We might not be able to control how we act when this happens, which can further damage relationships with other people. Sometimes, we feel shame going around our heads and blame the matter on our ADHD. We often think our heart is pounding too fast for us to think straight. We might also get anxious about the situation and not know how to approach it, feeling like we are going to say or do something that will only make it worse.

Handling difficult situations isn't included in the list of fortes of an adult with ADHD. It may take some time before self-awareness kicks in, when we recognize that what we are feeling is just an emotion, not the whole truth👌. We tend to get preoccupied with the thoughts of what ifs instead of how much effort we need to make to make up for our mistakes or assumed bad behavior. (if that's the problem of a neurotypical person with you). And when we fail to grasp the understanding of the situation, that's when we decide to quit or not do anything about it.

Running Every Scenario On Our ADHD Brain

How good are we at thinking about every possible scenario when we’re problem-solving? 🤔 As a person with ADHD, I think we can be significant in conflict resolution due to how creative we can be. However, we often get so caught up in the planning that we forget to do something about it. We become perfectionists when it comes to problem-solving. Usually, this can hinder us from trying to fix the problem because we become too focused on ensuring every detail is accounted for.

looking back & thinking of how you could've handled it better

An ADHD brain can produce many ideas, which can be brilliant in many things, including conflict resolution. However, even though there are many paths to take to make amends or set things right, a person with ADHD can still have difficulty executing their ideas, even if it’s just a simple task. This is because the person with ADHD might not be able to focus on one task and see it through until the end. The person can get sidetracked easily or may become too anxious that they might not be able to do it perfectly, so they give up altogether.

Running every possible way to resolve a conflict can be a helpful thing to set things straight. However, when our impulsivity gets ahead of us and we cannot undo our initial action, our brains will be filled with too many questions instead of solutions. Questions like, "What if I don’t feel the shame to confront and resolve these problems?" or "What if I set aside my emotions and resolve things peacefully?" These questions may run through our heads, but we might also feel that it’s too late because of our “first-line treatment” or immediate reaction to conflicts.

What to Do When Conflict Arises?

In life, a little hardship is manageable. We can continue to reflect on our mistakes, figure out how we can do better next time, and work on being more mindful of our actions. When conflict arises, it's okay to feel any emotion but know that we shouldn't act on them immediately😉. It's essential to take some time to think about what we are feeling and why we are feeling that way. After we recollect ourselves and gain control of our emotions, we can start to talk about the situation.

Hurt feelings should be appropriately addressed because they can lead to a much more serious problem if left unresolved. A relationship may start to fall off when we are not vocal with our feelings simply because we want to avoid conflicts. This is why talking about our feelings and maintaining a healthy relationship with others is essential. When we cover up the emotions we feel in our lives, we start to build up mixed feelings over time, and that's when problems worsen.

When others have committed mistakes against you, remember that expressing your anger on impulse may not resolve problems. Hence, it should not be your first response. It can be human nature to be upset, but you need to express it well. It'll only make the situation more difficult to resolve if your anger results in biased understanding and heated conversations. 

If you hear negative feedback, try as hard as possible to understand where they are coming from instead of being upset right away. This way, you can reflect on their words and learn from your mistakes. We must remember that it takes two people to build a relationship, and it'll take time and effort from both sides to make things work.

One of life's most important aspects is having a good and healthy relationship with the people around us😘. Maintaining a peaceful social relationship and connection with our social environment will result in a more enjoyable and happier life. A little friction is understandable because it is impossible not to have conflicts in our social interactions. What's important is we hear their side and reflect on our mistakes, if there are any, and continue to work on having a better relationship with others. After all, life is too short to be spent on arguments and fights🥰.

ADHD and Conflict: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

 

1.  Is conflict resolution difficult when you have ADHD?


Conflict resolution can be challenging for anyone, depending on the problems involved. But, yes, people with ADHD may have more difficulties due to the symptoms they are experiencing.


2. What ADHD traits affect a person’s ability to resolve conflicts and confrontations?


Many ADHD symptoms and traits can affect a person’s ability to resolve conflicts. For instance, being unable to manage their emotions well can get in the way of toning down a confrontation. Being easily distracted, talking too fast or interrupting a conversation, and forgetfulness can also cause conflicts.

3. What’s the best way to improve one’s ability to handle arguments or misunderstandings?


Since ADHD symptoms affect one’s ability to handle arguments, the best way to go about it is to manage them. You can do this by stepping back for a few minutes before reacting to the situation. Likewise, getting professional help from a mental health expert or ADHD coach will also be helpful.

Table of Contents

ADHD & Conflict

1. Do People with ADHD Often Struggle with Conflict and Confrontation?

        ~ How Do Adults With ADHD Deal with Conflict?

        ~ What Makes You Struggle with Conflicts?

        ~ Inattention And Staying Focused

        ~ Forgetfulness

        ~ Talking Fast and Non-Verbal Communication

        ~ Emotional Dysregulation and Handling Difficult Situations

        ~ Running Every Scenario On Our ADHD Brain

        ~ What to Do When Conflict Arises?

ADHD & Conflict FAQs

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it’s best to see a professional for a diagnosis.

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I created The Mini ADHD Coach in august 2020 when I was just diagnosed with ADHD at 29. After years of questioning, therapy, burnouts and chaotic career path changes I finally understood why I was struggling with so many things. So I decided to share what I learned to raise awareness around ADHD and help the ADHD community thrive.

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