Understanding the intersection between ADHD and conflict resolution can be important in many relationships. No matter who you are or what type of personality you have, if you have relationships you will have conflict. Conflicts exist in any relationship, and if you don’t know how to address conflict well than your relationships will suffer overall.
Most people struggle with resolving conflict. Some of this occurs as a result of our individualized culture and focus on self. Few of us want to resolve conflict because we feel we are always right and have no need to seek resolution.
Furthermore, we place the responsibility on the other person or people to resolve any disconnect. This approach, though, never helps the problem. Rather it usually makes matters much worse. Conflict resolution works this way for most people.
For people with ADHD, though, conflict resolution lags as well, but usually for other reasons. Sometimes, people with ADHD just struggle to recognize or empathize with the emotions of others. This lack of empathy can lead to them not realizing conflict exists in the first place. Additionally, people with ADHD struggle to understand or express their own emotions, which makes conflict resolution all the more difficult.
In order for you to find success in relationships you need to understand how to manage ADHD and conflict resolution. In this post, we give you some key ingredients for effective approaches for conflict resolution. You can take these strategies and apply them to many relationships you have to help you work better with the people you love and care about most.
Understand Yourself and Where Conflict Normally Arises
The secret to managing ADHD and conflict resolution begins with understanding. Primarily, this means understanding yourself and your own feelings. Conflict arises when two or more people get cross with one another. Many times the conflict might be unintentional or unaware on one or both parties. You even could experience anger or resentment which leads to conflict without fully realizing your own feelings.
We could all help to limit instances of conflict if we simply were more aware of how conflict arises in our lives. What drives us to conflict? What actions or words by others tend to upset or provoke us?
When we have the answers to these questions, we then have the tools to help see the conflict coming in our interactions. Then, when we can see the conflict coming we can more effectively communicate our feelings. Additionally, if we know where conflict tends to arise, we can work on avoiding those conflict spots or plan out ways that we can respond well to get over the tension.
The problem with this part of ADHD and conflict resolution is that many of us with ADHD really struggle with understanding our own emotions. We too often react without reflecting on how we feel about things. To get to the heart of conflict, you should take time to reflect.
Some ways you can reflect include keeping a daily journal where you record your feelings. At the end of the day or week then, you can go back and look at times of conflict and what caused them and why. Additionally, you can make notes on your cell phone or on a piece of paper documenting your feelings around different conflicts. You can then later compare these notes to gain an understanding of what drives conflict in your life.
Regularly Practice Active Listening and Engaging with Others Socially
Let’s face it, most of us are not the best listeners. We want to talk and engage and take the center stage for ourselves. Even if we don’t want to be the center of attention, many times we still find ourselves too preoccupied to really listen to others. Interestingly enough, though, one great way to avoid conflict or resolve it when it starts is to listen.
When we say listen, we don’t just mean letting someone else talk and you sit quietly. We mean that you engage in conversation and actively listen. Actively listen means that you focus your whole attention on someone else. This involves making eye contact with them and nodding and affirming with your body language that you hear them.
Many people with ADHD really struggle with picking up social interactions. Fortunately, with effort someone with ADHD can work to improve their social interactions. One great way to improve social skills is to regularly practice active listening even if you don’t have a conflict. When someone wants to tell you something, you should practice stopping what you are doing, turning to them, and actively listening to what they say.
When you practice active listening on a regular basis, it will then come as second nature to you when addressing ADHD and conflict resolution. The more you practice, the less you have to work at it. In the end then, you can become effective at conflict resolution through doing things you do every day: really listening.
Learn to be a Better Problem Solver
Managing ADHD and conflict resolution all boils down to problem solving. You have a problem, a conflict, between you and someone else. In order to resolve that conflict, you now need to think practically about how to solve the problem and remove the conflict.
Ultimately then to improve your conflict resolution skills you need to become better at problem solving. With this in mind, we need to acknowledge that problem solving doesn’t involve ignoring or pretending a problem doesn’t exist. Rather, it involves acknowledging the problem and working towards doing everything you can to fix the problem.
In periods of conflict, you need to look at the issue as a problem to be resolved. Conflicts are rife with feelings of anger and hurt. You should take time to feel these feelings. After you have done that, though, you need to start looking at the situation like you would any other problem and finding a practical reasonable way to resolve it. In a way, you become an analyst or an engineer trying to fix a system and restore what may have broken.
Problem solving shouldn’t mean you detach emotionally from the event. Instead, it means that you can set emotions aside in order to pursue a greater resolution. To become better at conflict resolution, you need to start practicing problem solving as much as possible in your everyday life.
Get a Second Opinion on Your Instinctive Reactions
We all have a right to our thoughts and emotions. No one should be able to tell us how we should feel about a situation. Still, that doesn’t mean, though, that all of our feelings or instincts produce right reactions. We might feel one way about a situation or action, but our reasons for feeling that way might be off or misguided and need readjusting. Additionally, the magnitude to which we may feel slighted or offended might be incorrect.
In order to approach ADHD and conflict resolution in a helpful way, we need to get other perspectives on the situation. When we find ourselves in the heat of a conflict, we tend to become nearsighted and can only see the issue from our point of view. We might have a correct point of view of the situation, but we also might have a limited understanding of the larger picture. The only way to figure out which is which is to bring in outside objective parties.
When you have a gut reaction about a particular conflict, remove yourself from the situation and get a second opinion. Talk to someone you trust that will be honest with you. Tell them the situation and what happened and ask them what they see in it. Don’t tell them your emotions. Rather, explain what happened and ask for their honest opinion as to what might be going on.
In getting others to speak into our conflicts, we open the door for resolution to take place. If we can only see one point of view, our own, then resolution can’t go anywhere. In seeking outside advice, you can practice listening to other’s points of view. You can also give yourself more time to process and reflect on your own feelings.
Be a Question Asker
ADHD and conflict resolution that helps all parties must rely on thoughtful questions. Most conflict arises out of unmet expectations or something presumed but left unsaid. You get upset because you thought your partner should do something one way. They, in turn, get upset because they thought you were going to do the same thing. You both then sit and stew in unspoken conflict because no one wants to ask the hard questions.
As we all know probably too well, assumptions tend to make us look foolish. Wrong assumptions also can easily lead us into conflict. For many people with ADHD, your brain tells you to act and respond, not to slow down and ask questions. As a result, you act impulsively and react emotionally, more often driven by incorrect assumptions than reality.
To help resolve conflict, you need to learn to pause and start asking questions. You need to ask a lot of specific probing questions. These questions can’t be rhetoric or simply a method to drive your point home.
Rather, you need to utilize questions that really reveal the other person’s thoughts and feelings. Before you seek conflict resolution, ask the other person if they want to pursue that with you. As you engage in conversation, continually ask their thoughts about what you say or how you saw events.
Through asking questions, you draw the other person in and you allow for empathy to be felt on both sides. Much conflict can simply be resolved once someone feels heard. In asking questions, you let them know that you listen and care.
Interactions drive conflict. Interactions, though, also help to aid in managing ADHD and conflict resolution. To get over conflict, you have to interact with the person you have conflict with. If you don’t and you just ignore them or the problem, you never resolve anything. Rather you just run and hide from the problem.
You can’t run forever, though. Instead, you need to learn to face your conflict and talk things through with the other person. For this to work, though, you need to talk things over calmly and without exploding in frustration or anger.
Since many people with ADHD tend to react to emotions rather than calmly reflect on them, this means you have to process emotions separately from talking through conflict. If you have conflict with someone else, your best course of action might be to take some time alone to process.
Get alone and write out your thoughts and feelings. Really reflect on how you feel and allow yourself to get angry or frustrated. Then, after processing your emotions, resolve yourself to stay calm as you go to talk to the other person.
In your conversation, ask the person how they feel and listen to them. Choose not to react in the moment. If something they say upsets you, calmly let them know that. If you can’t do that in the moment, ask for some more time to think.
No one says that you have to resolve conflict in one setting. Sometimes resolution takes a while. It will never work, though, if you can’t stay calm when discussing how you feel.
Effective ADHD and Conflict Resolution Management Starts with You
At the end of the day, the root of handling ADHD and conflict resolution begins with you. When conflicts arise, our gut instinct is to immediately point the finger and find someone else to blame. They did this to me, or she said that which made me react in this way. As soon as conflict starts, we starting painting ourselves the victim and everyone else the aggressor.
In some or even many instances, we may in fact be the person in the right or the victim of the conflict. Still, though, effective conflict resolution must start with your own feelings and how you respond to conflict. You can’t force anyone else to behave in any specific way. Rather, you can guide other people’s actions by how you act and respond to them.
Effective conflict resolution lies in treating yourself and others with respect. You need to allow yourself to feel your feelings, but at the same time you need to recognize that other people have emotions and need to be heard as well. For this reason, much of conflict resolution lies in empathizing with others and letting them be heard.
To start managing ADHD and conflict resolution better today, you need to commit to working on yourself. When you find yourself in conflict, take a moment to assess how you feel, talk to others outside the situation about your feelings, stay calm, ask questions, and actively listen to try to problem solve and find solutions. Conflict resolution might not come easy, but with practice you can grow to be much better at it.