How to have a conversation that the learning lasts past the actual conversation when one, if not both partners/spouses, are affected by ADHD

frustrationA great frustration of partners of people affected by ADHD is they experience a good conversation with their partner just to discover a day or two later that it is all but forgotten. This is not a deliberate thing on the part of the person affected with ADHD. None-the-less it is extremely annoying to the person without ADHD no matter how understanding they are.

So what to do about this? There is a technique that while it doesn’t solve the problem it can improve the odds of the conversation making more of an impact in the moment, a lasting impression and a better understanding of what is being said by each party. The one caveat is that the process takes patience and that is not always in great supply especially for people affected by ADHD.

To begin with each partner thinks carefully about what they want to say, take notes if they have to. Once the couple chooses who is going to go first, that partner makes one point, comment or question they wish to share. JUST ONE.

The second partner must repeat back that point, comment or question USING THEIR OWN WORDS. This will show that they are processing the information. The original partner cannot interrupt while the second partner is reframing what the original partner has said. The original partner does not interrupt. Then it is up to the original partner to comment as to whether the second partner got the reframing correct. If not, the original partner will repeat what they are trying to communication again and the second partner will try reframing again.

conversation2You stick with one idea at a time until you both feel like you both are in agreement that you understand each other’s point. THIS DOES NOT MEAN AGREEING. Just that both partners now feel they have been heard properly.

The conversation proceeds in this manner. Point by point, issue by issue until you naturally come to a conclusion. If need be, especially for the ADHD partner, take breaks. BUT, during those breaks do not sneak in comments regarding the topic under conversation that you are reframing that will surely end the respectful communication you have built.

So make your couple conversations stick by taking turns reframing each others points of view until you both are understanding each others points of view. Come to agreements through real listening and if necessary write down your decisions to help both of you remember. Good Luck!

 Abigail Wurf, M.Ed, CLC

ADHD and Executive Functions Coach

Abigail Wurf works with adults, couples and parents affected by ADHD or executive function issues (see definition below) in a coaching and/or consulting capacities. Her clientele also includes college and graduate students struggling to make it through their programs.

She conducts workshops and speaking presentations on executive function issues such as productivity, planning, prioritizing, goal setting, time management, task initiation, emotional regulation, focus, meta-cognition, working memory, self inhibition and flexibility/shift.

Abigail’s work also includes presentations on ADHD, specific executive functions or theories of executive functions, invisible disabilities, resiliency and motivation.