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What’s Missing When Skillful Communication Is Just Not Happening - 031

communication executive function podcast Aug 07, 2017

Welcome to the thirty-first episode of Harness Your ADHD Power, a podcast show I created to explore the many facets of adult life with ADHD and how you can learn to harness your personal ADHD power to become unstoppable.

Just because you can speak, doesn’t mean you can communicate skillfully or say what you intend to convey.  Just because you know the words doesn’t mean that you are using them skillfully.  Just because you get everything out that you want to say, doesn’t mean it is received as you intended.  And, if you have beliefs about not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, then you’ve already set yourself up to not say what’s on your mind because you’ll be focused on censoring yourself; not focused on what you want to convey.

Some of the goals for this episode are to provide you with a basic understanding of communication; what it is and is not.  What your responsibility is as the communicator.  What your responsibility is as the listener.  The role boundaries play in communication.  How to communicate assertively, skillfully and say what you intend with greater confidence and ease of expression.  And of course, there will be some actions steps you can begin to take today.

A small piece of information here on how executive function skills tie in with communication.  You are going to need the ability to hold onto your thoughts as you are expressing them; to regulate your emotional state as you are expressing yourself even if you are “worked up” about what you have to say, and prioritize the flow of your communication.  If you are lacking any of these skills, these are your “pre-skills” to learn, practice and master so you can move on to more skillful communication and be successful.

One of the reasons I created my innovative online program, ADDventures in Achievement, is because I know just how complex this situation is, as well as the many other challenges that those of you with focus, follow through and self-management issues face, and I wanted to create a safe and productive space where we could work together, both as a community group as well as 1:1, to ensure that each and every one of you gets what you need to sort out your own unique set of circumstances as well as the solutions to them.

Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and newfound freedom in your life!

My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses.  And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.

 

Full Episode Transcript HYAP Podcast Episode #031
What’s Missing When Skillful Communication Is Just Not Happening - 031
Monday, August 7, 2017


Today is Episode 31 with Dr B


Hey ADDers! So glad you could join me for today’s podcast episode. It’s time for another change to the format. The episodes have been getting a bit long, so I’m moving back to the sweet spot of roughly 30 minutes. That means cutting out some of the repetitive content, in order to keep the episodes focused on great content, stories, action steps and a favorite quote of mine. I appreciate all your suggestions and input so I can consider everything and provide you with the best of me in ways that are best for you too.

Just because you can speak, doesn’t mean you can communicate skillfully or say what you intend to convey. Just because you know the words doesn’t mean that you are using them skillfully. Just because you get everything out that you want to say, doesn’t mean it is received as you intended. And, if you have beliefs about not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, then you’ve already set yourself up to not say what’s on your mind because you’ll be focused on censoring yourself; not focused on what you want to convey.

Some of the goals for this episode are to provide you with a basic understanding of communication; what it is and is not. What your responsibility is as the communicator. What your responsibility is as the listener. The role boundaries play in communication. How to communicate assertively, skillfully and say what you intend with greater confidence and ease of expression. And of course, there will be some actions steps you can begin to take today.

A small piece of information here on how executive function skills tie in with communication. You are going to need the ability to hold onto your thoughts as you are expressing them; to regulate your emotional state as you are expressing yourself even if you are “worked up” about what you have to say, and prioritize the flow of your communication. If you are lacking any of these skills, these are your “pre-skills” to learn, practice and master so you can move on to more skillful communication and be successful.

There’s also a tie-in from episode 029 about assumptions, expectations, shame and guilt. You weren’t born with these skills to be an effective communicator; they have to be learned. You were born with the capacity to develop them, but not with them there and ready to be used. If you speak, you had to learn to talk. You started by repeating words, forming sentences and so on. Eventually, you were “talking” which doesn’t necessarily mean you were communicating skillfully; just that you were talking.

Communication is interactive; it’s an exchange of information.People attempt to understanding one another from what is said in the exchange, as well as what is not said. The word “communicate” comes from the Latin meaning to share; it’s an act of conveying an intended meaning from one person to another through the use of mutually understood rules, sounds, signs, symbols and gestures. Human communication is unique for its use of abstract language; meaning communication isn’t always clear-cut.

Here’s a quick overview of what happens with communication: Typically there’s a reason or motivation for you to say something. You have to compose the message mentally and then translate it into the form it will be expressed in, such as written or spoken words. You need to consider your tonal qualities because they influence your communication, as do your facial expressions. Sometimes the receiver’s facial expressions influence you when you’re speaking, and you have to be mindful of that possible influence. The receiver has to decode or understand what you are saying or conveying “correctly;” in other words, they have to interpret and make sense out of what comes out of your mouth. That’s a lot going on!

Plus, with both literal and inferential communication (literal being - what you say is what you mean and inferential being - what you say has layers of implied meanings), it’s amazing that any of us are as understood as we are.

If there are any skills missing along the way for you, either as the speaker or the receiver, there will most likely be a breakdown in the communication. And if you and others both feel you’re in the right, and assume that you have all the skills onboard that are necessary in order to transmit or receive accurately, and you don’t, there are often arguments because you and others aren’t even in the same conversation. Perhaps you can relate.

This is NOT a moral issue! This is a deficit in skills that were not learned or mastered, for whatever reasons, and still can be and need to be. If you are willing to invest the time, effort and energy, it is doable.

It’s important to NOT “assume” that you or anyone else has the capacity to do things that “seem simple enough” like communicate skillfully. If you or others don’t yet know how to do something, it doesn’t make sense to punish or blame or get upset; none of those responses are empowering or supportive. Rather, get busy identifying and filling in the existing gaps.

And remember, making a mistake doesn’t make you a failure; you only failed to achieve an outcome (which is behavioral) but you as the person aren’t a failure (which is identity or essence). Your value is still intact as a human being.

I’m a work in progress, just like you. I failed to know how to get all the active links into the episode description until this one, yet I figured it out and now the information is there; it’s just part of the adventure of life. No point in playing the blame game; better to get solutions-oriented and figure things out. So, be a student of your own life, remain “teachable” and you will move from stuck to unstoppable too.

We’re getting closer to today’s 3 important points, with relevant stories, an action step, and a favorite quote of mine. Let’s keep going…

I want you to remember that you are NOT what you do or don’t do; you are more than that. WE are NOT defective or less than as people – as human beings; we’re just wired differently and that difference is actually pretty cool once you have the tools you need for your own success. In this case, it’s YOU discovering whatever pre-skills or skills you might be missing, being open to learning and mastering them so you can skillfully communicate, and enjoy greater happiness and success in your life.

Remember that this is a process with many important parts, so please don’t let yourself off the hook here by skipping over one or two steps, not getting the results you hoped for, and stopping there. Seriously!! If you didn’t have the benefit of learning this stuff growing up, you can’t expect yourself to master it overnight. Well you can expect it, but that would be silly. Each piece of this process builds on what comes before it, so don’t skip anything, looking for a shortcut; there just aren’t any if you want to master skillful communication. It takes lots and lots of practice to become your new, automatic behavior…and it is so worth it!

In this episode, I’m going to help you to see where or why your communications have been less than skillful, and what you can do starting today to turn those outcomes around, as well as feel better about yourself.

How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.


Today’s 3 important points are:

1. The impact of ADHD and EF Deficits on skillful communication
2. Assertive, not aggressive communication (plus literal & inferential)
3. Importance of boundaries in providing and receiving communication


Now back to being an adult with ADHD in today’s world.


It’s almost story time but first, YOU need a WIN. You need to remember and acknowledge and celebrate at least one thing that is good about you or has gone right for you today, just one thing. Perhaps you shared a WIN in the community group; that’s a WIN. Or maybe you completed a task that you’ve never completed before; certainly a WIN. Or perhaps you gave up a bad habit; that’s definitely a WIN. Whatever you choose is up to you; however, I want you to choose something right now and celebrate it – either a loud or to yourself. I want you to have a WIN and acknowledge that at least one thing has gone right in your day, is right about you, even if you have lots to learn before you become an effective communicator. So what? That doesn’t take away from the fact that at least one thing has gone right today or is right with you. You are a precious child of the universe; and are called a “human being” not a “human doing” for good reason. You don’t have to earn your value; you were born with it. You’re value comes from “who” you are; not what you do. Got it?

The reasons why you don’t have skillful communication yet aren’t as important as your willingness to be a student of your own life, so you can determine which skills you have and which skills you need to learn. I’m going to share three stories with you as well as talk about your responsibility in this, since you’re not off the hook here. I hope at least one of these stories will resonate with you and be of benefit. So let’s keep going.


Shifting gears to our first story…

· Conrad had been down on himself for years. In writing, he was a fair communicator. It’s because he could take all the time he wanted to craft his message; in fact, he often spent hours on an email or letter, whether for work or a friend. He wanted to be careful to say exactly what he wanted to say and not be misunderstood. He thought he was taking every precaution to avoid hurt or misunderstanding.

· The problem, of course, is that Conrad didn’t have any control over how people would take or interpret what he said in writing. He could labor for hours and feel that he got it “just right” and send it off only to be greeted with a response that he just didn’t expect; and not a positive one.

· It was because of Conrad’s challenges with attention, memory, thinking and reasoning that it took an enormous amount of time, effort and energy to give birth to just one message.

· Conrad was so focused on the words he was using to express his message, that he was missing what his messages were lacking.

· His focus was so narrow and “hyperfocused” that he didn’t create the mental space to consider more than “just the facts.”

· He didn’t know how to establish rapport with the people he was writing to; he was mostly focused on getting his point across clearly

· Some of his emails were 2-3 pages long and took a long time to get to the point; sometimes he never really did with any clarity for others

· And because he took so long to craft his written communication, many people were annoyed with him because they needed the information quickly and couldn’t get him to move faster to provide it; he felt overwhelmed and stressed when he was pushed to produce more quickly.

· It was a similar experience for him as “demand language” when asked to speak and respond. He just couldn’t respond well on demand; his brain just shut down and couldn’t access the information he knew he had but was out of his reach.

· Conrad was hearing what his co-workers were saying to him, but he couldn’t comply and didn’t really understand the meaning of their communication and how their lives were being impacted by his actions


Background facts:

· Communication is a huge part of our lives. Every relationship depends on it, and it often seems to go wrong, especially when ADHD or EFD are present.

· Some of these general tips for skillful communication are challenging for those with ADHD or EFD, yet are very important:

o Who you are matters. What you say matters. What you do matters

o Notice and strengthen your supportive habits, and watch out for those that aren’t

o Use meditation and mindfulness to create the necessary space in your own mind to communicate skillfully


· Improving your speaking skills

o Find the right time and be willing to tell the truth about when that is, so everyone’s needs can be met

o Empathy and rapport is essential when you’re connecting with another person

o Clearly identify what’s really important in what you’re saying and stay focused there

o Reduce input and say only what needs saying; keep it brief

o Be truthful so you don’t have to remember little lies

o Express kindness and gratitude for others’ presence in the communication


· Improving your listening skills

o The difference between hearing and listening – huge difference

· We perceive with our ears, or hear words with our auditory system

· We listen to complete messages using our cognitive functions of attention, memory, thinking and reasoning


o Barriers to effective listening with ADHD & EFD to overcome

· Distractions – internal and external ones

· Misinterpretations – processing incorrectly

· Attachments to our opinions – need to be right


o Active listening is engaged listening on a spectrum

· Repeating; saying what you heard said

· Paraphrasing what was said; a summary

· Reflecting what was said; your own words


If you relate to Conrad’s story, your action step has three parts:

o Focus – on identifying what’s the real or underlying problems are so you can get to some real solutions

o Follow Through – on addressing the underlying problems with a trained professional, if needed, so you can develop skills, resolve emotional issues and build your self-esteem

o Self-Management – of your feelings about the years of struggling with these challenges and all the people you unintentionally hurt, including yourself. Cultivating a deep well of empathy and forgiveness will be important to the healing process.


Transitioning to our next story…

· When Laura had her style of taking in information assessed, she scored 50/50; which means that she takes in a double load of information in every communication exchange as a listener; she’s getting both the literal and inferential input. As the speaker, she’s processing both the literal and inferential messages she wants to convey to others; and has a double load there as well.

· No wonder she feels overwhelmed in every communication situation and reacts aggressively! She’s just trying to get away from so much information and her aggressiveness is her only defense to push the entire stimulus load away from her!!

· It’s clear that people don’t respond well to her aggressiveness, and she knows that being assertive is much healthier and more respectful, but she just hasn’t been able to manage her emotional load well enough to make that transition possible.


Background facts:

· A few differences between being aggressive and being assertive

· Aggressive communication

· Reactive; like a bulldozer

· Only considers your needs; no one else’s


o Assertive communication

· Responsive

· Considers your needs and others’ needs too

· Respectful

· Non-violent


· My favorite book for learning assertive expression is “Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships”, by Alberti and Emmons. It’s now in its 10th Edition and available for the first time this year on Kindle. It is packed with step-by-step exercises, tips and skills to help you express yourself effectively.

If you relate to Laura’s story, your action step has three parts:

o Focus – on noticing what triggers you to communicate with aggression instead of being assertive

o Follow Through – on unpacking those situations where you get triggered into aggressive communication and determine what you are fighting for or against in those situations so you will be able to work it through and resolve those issues

o Self-Management – your feelings of needing to protect yourself with aggression and gently allow yourself to step into considering the needs of others and yourself, at the same time, in each situation, so you can make the emotional transition to respectful communication.


Transitioning to our next story…

· After years of a challenging marriage, Tim and Marge were at their wits end. It’s not that they had forgotten their love for each other or what attracted them years ago. They were just having a hard time setting aside all the hurts of the past, establishing personal boundaries both as individuals and as a married couple, and sticking with these healthier ways of relating when they communicated, without getting triggered or aggressive.

· They knew they needed some professional help with setting aside the hurts of the past, and sought it, because as hard as they tried, they kept brings those hurts into their life today.

· In their first couples’ session, they learned what it means to fully let go of something and truly forgive; which doesn’t mean liking what happened – rather to choose to stop punishing each other and themselves with the events of the past. They learned how to cut ties with their past, take the lessons they learned with them, and move on.

· They knew they could move forward with setting up boundaries and practicing respectful communication now that the weight of the past hurts was resolved.


Background Facts:

· Boundaries are indicators of where you begin and end as a person, so to speak.

· They can also indicate the space or shape of a relationship; the borders, or limits.

· The purpose of boundaries is to protect something, not to prohibit it.

· Boundaries can be considered as guidelines for what is and isn’t acceptable in a communication exchange; how you will express yourself and how you are willing to receive communication in order to “protect” both yourself as an individual and the coupleship.

· Within the confines of the coupleship, boundaries could refer to the “lines” that define and protect individuals; boundaries also help people understand the friction points in the relationship and move beyond them to the mutual love and care, respect, and intimacy of a sacred union.

· People who don’t respect others’ boundaries have a basic attitude toward life that they should be able to do what they want; kind of immature and self-serving.

· Examples of boundaries might be:

o Being intentional about taking care of your relationship; speaking directly to each other about a problem rather than to others

o Not allowing others to speak negatively about your beloved; rather to protect them and have their back

o To not keep secrets from each other because it limits the intimacy you can experience

o To not speak rudely or shout at the other, which can be verbally abusive

o To not physically hurt each other

o To work together as a team; to do what’s best for the relationship

o When facing a decision, ask yourself if it will help the relationship and how; and if not, then don’t do it

o To decline invitations from family or friends that is hurtful to your relationship


If you relate to Tim and Marge’s story, your action step has three parts:

o Focus – on what the challenges are and whether or not you can resolve them on your own

o Follow Through – on seeking professional help, as needed, to resolve specific issues and continue to work together on practicing setting and respecting healthy boundaries in your relationship and communication

o Self-Management – of your feelings about the boundaries of your beloved. See them as protection for them and your relationship, rather than a wall you need to try and tear down or push through


It takes courage to look at the truth of your life and accept what you find. Acceptance isn’t resignation; it’s starting with what is and moving forward from there.


A Favorite Quote:

Jim Rohn said, “If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “Are you ready to upgrade your communication from just okay to skillfully?” I hope so; it’s a step into having a deeper connection with yourself and others. It’s totally worth it!!


Since everyone learns differently, and has preferences for how they learn best, I’ve created many different resources with you in mind. And I have a WIN to share. I learned how to put all the resource info and live links in the episode description! Wow! Hard to believe it’s taken me 30 episodes to figure this out, and it takes what it takes. So, here’s what’s available:

· This podcast show, with Show Notes for each episode

· The Harness Your ADHD Power Community on Facebook

· Live videos on my Facebook page, ADDventures in Achievement

· Ask me your questions for an episode

· Reach out to me with your thoughts or feedback

· Quick survey to tell me what you’re struggling with

· A free video and e-book about getting your ADHD needs met

· A free tips e-book on decision-making

· My innovative online program, ADDventures in Achievement. New enrollment opens again on August 15th; so get yourself on the Waitlist now if you want to receive additional information this week to know if this might be right for you.


Like I said, all the resource links are now in the episode description as well as on my website. Be sure to take advantage of everything I continue to generate with you in mind. And please reach out to me directly if there’s something else you’d like to see as a resource or something you’d like to tell me about this show and what would work even better for you. I really do want to hear from you, because your needs matter to me! If I’m going to help make a significant difference in your lives, I need to know what your frustrations are and what you need.

No matter how you choose to have me serve your needs, it is an honor to accompany you on your journey and make a difference in the quality of your life.

I appreciate you showing up to listen today and in the future. New episodes are released on Mondays and Thursdays. As a subscriber, the newest episode will be in your feed by 1 am Pacific time, plus you won’t miss out on any “extra episodes” I create; certainly a good reason to subscribe. Remember to check the Ask Dr B episodes for answers to your questions, if you asked any of me or just enjoy all the episodes, where I’ll be talking about such compelling topics as what it takes to make good decisions, excelling in the workplace, and the purpose of setting realistic goals.

If you enjoyed today’s episode or any of the other episodes, please share this podcast show with your friends and family, as well as rate the show. If you’d like to do a little more, write a thoughtful review on iTunes so I know I’m meeting your needs. It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy; just a line or two of how the podcast is helping you, if it is. I love hearing from you and learning how the podcast show is benefiting you and those you care about. It means a lot to me to know you life is getting a little bit better every time we get together.

So, if you want to download the show notes or access additional resources and services, you’ll find the links in the description, and on my website, that is…if that’s of interest to you. Thanks for listening… Until the next time…Bye for now…

 

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