I have noticed that I and many of my clients affected by ADHD tend to explain too much. We often struggle to give succinct answers when asked a question. We are storytellers who tell a story on the way to our answer. Nothing wrong with telling a story but if you are in a situation where direct specific answers are expected a story is out of place, especially a long one.

Supervisor: “Did you get the document done?”

Employee: “I had so many problems with the computer, first the computer froze, I had to call IT and wait for them, then I lost the document so I had to start over… but I got it done.”

All the question really required was “yes.”

If the answer was “no” there should be a succinct explanation followed by the solution. “Had computer problems and I will get the document to you by 5 pm today,” rather than a long explanation of what happened.

I think when we respond to questions where there was a problem or we didn’t get the task done we think explaining all we went through is helpful. Instead it sounds like a long excuse. Be succinct, explain quickly you had a problem and then state your solution. The longer you dwell on all the reasons you didn’t get something done the more it sounds like an excuse and tests the patience of the listener.

It is important to read the situation you are in. Is it a situation such as a professional meeting where succinct answers are expected or are you hanging out with a bunch of friends shooting the breeze where storytelling is not only welcome but expected? Then act accordingly.

We are all works in progress on this but each time we succeed in being succinct it makes it easier the next time.