Compliments of George Eastman House via Flickr

Compliments of George Eastman House via Flickr

Each morning I select what to wear – based on the weather, event, people I’m seeing, or sometimes personal whim. I choose garments to match the occasion. If I’m being atypically efficient I select the entire ensemble – including jewelry, accessories, and handbag the previous night.

Do we generate the same level of consideration in a one-on-one exchange? Many of us hurriedly choose feelings that float atop our emotional cauldron, instead of taking a step back to consider the audience.

In the worst possible scenario we shout words like rounds of artillery at “enemy camps” standing only inches from our face. True empathy mandates the consideration of others’ perceptions, dispositions, background, and/or disability, adjusting our method and approach. Not everything we experience is meant as a personal attack.

Overfocused ADD – characterized by “[getting’] ‘stuck’ in negative thought patterns or behavior” may appear obsessive and inflexible, argumentative and oppositional, incensed when things aren’t performed to their specifications, also characterized by “worry, moodiness, emotional rigidity and irritability” “difficulty seeing options in situations” “hold[ing] onto his or her own opinion” like a “bulldog,” and “obsessive compulsive [notions] about the way things ought to be done.” This type of ADD is linked to a part of the brain (Anterior Cingulate Gyrus, which impacts task switching and cognitive flexibility) that’s considered over reactive. Individuals may thus react disproportionately when feeling momentarily sideswiped or overwhelmed.

As people who enjoy arguing, overfocused ADDs may appear both ready and willing to do battle. Donning your suit of armor in preparation for counter attack is not an optimal recourse. You will lose. What appears as hair trigger over-response is simply a way of dealing with the unexpected or unapproved, a stylistic issue not meant to offend. It’s simply their response to what they interpret as left field elements in situations where they don’t realize they have options.

Think about what you can do differently to prevent potential run-ins. Perhaps greater, measured (or more frequent) explanation on your part? What appears as histrionic outburst (especially to laid back Type B persons) may be normal conversational style, particularly for an overfocused ADD who experiences vulnerability. Don’t add gas to the fire by attempting to prove insignificant points. Give them time to decompress; then, if you still feel strongly continue in a calm tone, sitting face to face in a place with no distractions.

Multitasking is not their forte. Surprises do not fit well within their behavioral mosaic – so ease gently into whatever’s out of the ordinary. They may disagree, then reverse course after pondering the issue (in a less heated arena when they’re not in mid task). In their thinking they are not exhibiting contrariness, but rather reversed course of action after reassessing the facts.

All parties on board is a necessary process to move forward.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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