Improve Relationships by Decreasing Verbal Impulses

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Positive connections and relationships with others are so important in our lives. For an individual with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, there are many challenges that get in the way of rewarding relationships.

One area that can be particularly difficult is reining in impulsive responses. People who have ADHD often speak loudly, blurt out things, talk too much, talk out of turn, and interrupt others.

This impulsivity can have an effect on how people interact with others and their relationships. When such problems lead to repeated failures in friendships, dating, and intimate relationships, it can take a toll, causing a person to withdraw and become isolated.

Improving Verbal Interactions

If you tend to say things without thinking, you may easily say something hurtful. Imagine how another person will feel if you impulsively blurt out that their pants make them look fat, for example. Though you may be being honest, what you say will cause another person to feel hurt and angry.

Some signs that you respond impulsively:

  • You talk too much.
  • You monopolize conversations.
  • You take too long to get to your point.
  • You cut off and interrupt others.
  • You often blurt out hurtful or overly honest comments without thinking.

When you engage in these patterns, you may quickly find people avoiding interactions with you. Becoming more aware of the feelings and needs of others can go a long way in improving your social connections.

Below are eight ways you can learn to control impulsive speech and improve your relationships with friends, family, and partners.

Build Your Awareness

If you want to stop saying things without thinking, the first step is to become more aware of the behavior. Spend some time noticing the things you say each day and try to identify the times when you said things without thinking.

Look for Patterns

It can be helpful to keep a journal to keep track of times when these impulsive comments happen. Do they tend to happen more in certain situations, such as at home or at work? Are you more likely to blurt things out when you are stressed?

Enlist the help of a friend or partner to point out the times you say things without thinking. Some people realize it after the fact, but if you can begin to become more aware of these slip-ups as they are occurring, it is easier to make changes.

Ask for Constructive Feedback

Everyone feels sensitive to criticism, especially if you have received negative feedback frequently. While it is important to get feedback, it needs to be done in a way that will help you make positive changes without hurting your self-esteem.

If this is an area you want to make improvements in, ask your friends and family for feedback. Talk with them about ways they can give you feedback that won’t feel so critical. Gentle reminders that point out areas where you can improve can be helpful rather than hurtful.

While it can be easy to dwell only on mistakes, it is also important to learn to recognize your strengths as well. Ask others to be sure to point out when you interact in a positive way, too.

Pause Before You Speak

Becoming more mindful of your communication is important for reducing impulsive comments. When you are having conversations, practice taking a brief moment before you respond.

Stop and think, take a deep breath, and collect your thoughts so you know what you are going to say before speaking.

Think about how your words will be perceived by others. Consciously think about framing your words in a way that will be helpful and informative. It can be challenging to do this, especially when it feels like what you have to say is urgent, but it will become more natural the more you practice.

Write It Down

Another simple strategy that can be helpful is to keep a small pad of paper with you to jot down things you want to say. If another person is talking and you begin to feel the urge to interrupt, rather than blurting out what you're thinking, write down the thought instead.

Let others know that you are going to use this strategy, so they don't feel as though you are ignoring them as you write. Jot your thoughts down very quickly so you can get back to refocusing your attention on and engaging in eye contact with the person who is speaking.

Be Open

It is alright to let others know that you can be a little wordy at times and may have trouble getting to the point of your conversation. Ask them to help you out by giving you a sign or politely interrupting and redirecting you to try to get back to the point you wanted to make.

Periodically checking in with the other person can also help ensure that you are not dominating the conversation.

Simply pausing and asking them what they think can help the other person voice what they want to say. It can also be a great way to let someone else carry the conversation while you compose your own thoughts.

Ask for Help

Recognizing social cues can be very difficult for a person with ADHD. Let your friend or partner know this is an issue for you, and ask for their help in interpreting cues.

Consciously work on becoming more observant of your tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Each of these will give you clues as to how other people are feeling as they speak.

Be Careful

When you first meet new people, including potential romantic partners, it can be particularly important to pay attention to your verbal communication. Though you should approach dating relationships with an open heart, try to be aware of not opening yourself up too quickly. Don't reveal your entire life story on the first date, for example.

Use a trusted friend as a sounding board to help better understand some of the “rules” of dating. Though you want to learn more about this new partner and share so that they can learn more about you, you don’t want to move so quickly that the person feels overwhelmed or put off.

Listen

Being a good listener will help you grow and deepen your relationships. It's also a good way to gauge how others feel about the relationship. This is helpful especially in the early stages, but it continues to be an important skill in all stages of relationships. Listening is a skill that you can develop with practice.

Ask your partner questions, allow them to share, and really listen to what they are saying. This lets people know you are interested and that you care about them.

A Word From Verywell

Impulsive speech is something that can affect anyone, but it can be a common challenge for people who have ADHD. However, you can learn how to stop saying things without thinking. Identifying your own communication patterns, asking trusted friends for feedback, and practicing new skills can help you decrease impulsivity and improve your verbal communication and interactions.

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