Social Cues: Hello, today a co-worker... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Social Cues

1andOnly profile image

Hello, today a co-worker on a group email ask me a question; “can you let me know where you are at?” I answered, I’m working from home. My manager who was on the group email sent a reply that this person wasn’t literally asking where I was, but my work status on a project.

I don’t know how react to this. Is this a missed social cue as a result of ADHD or am I too up tight about a work related issue?

If ADHD, how would I prevent this from happening again, other than, in this case, asking what do you mean and maybe sounding professionally weird. Can any of you relate?

13 Replies

Hi, I can relate to this. I do think its easy to miss social cues with Adhd and appreciate it must b hard in a work setting. I think having very high anxiety levels/being uptight go hand in hand with Adhd. This is part of the reason I miss social cues because I feel Sometimes, I'm not really present because my mind is going so fast its hard to pay attention and listen, especially in a social setting.

A mixture of acceptance of where you are now and also looking for good sensible ways to to improve always gives me hope. Its ok to make mistakes and no ones perfect.

Would you feel comfortable being open with your manager about it also. I know this isn't always possible.

1andOnly profile image
1andOnly in reply to Fred2001

Thanks for the reply. No I’m not comfortable reaching out to my manager unfortunately. Although my office now recognizes mental health. I don’t think they have come to the place to consider neurological diversity.

They should have said "where are you at on the project?". They were as far off as you. Don't sweat it. But when people confuse you, back up and think about what their needs and priorities probably are at that moment.

ADHD33 profile image
ADHD33 in reply to JuliaDeSousa

Totally agree! These days that idiom takes on a whole new meaning. You could even respond with a joke about in the “new normal” who knows how to interpret that question anymore! 🤣

Thank you. I needed to hear this.

I can relate to this and it happens to me quite frequently. What you could do is try to notice how may times other people ask for clarification about things because they all do it as well. They all make this same mistake. You are not that far off from other people. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and if you see this as a weakness of yours then you will have other strengths that will compensate for this. I always look at people to try to remember what they are good at and I think other people do it as well. So people mostly judge you on what your strengths are and not what your weaknesses are. Also, which one would be less embarrassing, asking for clarification or getting it wrong? For me, I don't like to make mistakes and would rather ask for clarification.

I can relate to this, but in my case I feel like it's a combo of slow processing (of auditory input in particular, but could also be written) and impulse control. I always want to answer a question right away, because for me, I'm often trying to compensate for my slow processing - which I don't necessarily think is part of ADD but not sure.

And my lack of impulse control often has me answering something before I'm able to think "globally "about the situation. The only thing that seems to help my 'pause button' is to do my yoga in the morning or other exercise, especially something using the breath consciously since currently I haven't been taking medication. Anything that gets you in your body and able to think about the other person's perspective before you jump into replying.

Hope that helps somewhat!

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to artnmusic

"I'm often trying to compensate for my slow processing - which I don't necessarily think is part of ADD but not sure."

I'm nearly 100% positive that this is absolutely part of ADD. This is not to say that everyone with ADD will do that. My wife has ADHD and she is as quick as a whip, but I think she is an exception. I think another part of her brain overcompensates for the ADHD. It changes as we age though. Things we did in our youth that worked fine to balance ADD are no longer working as well for us as we get older.

Hi 1andOnly,

This could be a two-fold thing. First, as ArtNMusic stated below, it could be impulsivity. Only you know the answer to whether or not is that. Second, you may be hypersensitive to the criticism, which is normal for an ADHD person, especially one who has been criticized a lot for what others see as "shortcomings" or "inadequacies." I see what your supervisor wrote as going two ways, but perhaps there is more to this, like if you have had a history of this sort of thing with your supervisor and you believe there is more "tone" to what was stated than appears from the words alone?

It looks, from my view, which could be 100% wrong, that your supervisor was just clarifying. If so, a "OH, now I see it, my bad." Kind of statement in your own words might be all that is needed. This error seems like small potatoes to me, but again, I don't know your history with this supervisory. Admitting an error fully and taking ownership and offering an apology are seen as maturity, and can be counter intuitive to someone who worries they are inadequate and who fears getting in trouble is just around the corner. It would be even better if you could state to the whole group that comment, if your supervisor could see it too. Again, it shows maturity and a willingness to be a team player and "keep the peace."

But, I hope your supervisor can appreciate that JuliaDeSousa is absolutely right, the person doing the asking should say what they mean and mean what they say. Her question WAS vague and an incomplete sentence grammatically speaking.

If you can, give your supervisory your side with ADHD, but make sure you own it as your miscalculation. Tell your supervisory you will try to be more aware before you reply. Perhaps a 30 second rule, to give you time to think of other meanings using context clues?

Don't beat yourself up too much, hyperfocus can be a gift with ADHD, but not if you are hyperfocusing on your short comings. Find other things today to give yourself credit for. You are a good person, you ARE smart in so many ways, and ---you got this. Hugs!

Because you are working from home, it’s a reasonable guess that someone wanted to know where you are geographically. No biggie. Not necessarily ADHD in my opinion.

It’s generally instructive to do what Julia said and “back up and think about what their needs and priorities probably are at that moment.” I am trying to get to the point that’s a habit and I do it automatically. Still working on it!

I experience stuff like this ALL the time and it is so embarrassing. It makes me feel so insecure and inadequate in social situations, especially when people point it out. If this had happened to me, I would've wanted to go crawl up in a ball and hide forever. My parents are both immigrants too and I spent a lot of my childhood in our home country/with other immigrant families, so one thing that gets me too are American idioms! I didn't grow up hearing them, so I always felt so dumb for not knowing. For years I thought "silver lining" was some football term. But I think with ADHD in general, idioms make it so our brains have to take an extra step to remember what the literal meaning is, which is annoying.

But the discussion on this post made me realize how many parts of ADHD symptoms go into our natural responses to these type of situations, which I think is so interesting, and makes me feel validated. So just wanted to come here and say especially with harmless mistakes like this, no one thinks any different. We can try our best to fit into this neurotypical world, but sometimes we just have to laugh at ourselves and recognize its okay to just be human sometimes! :)

Much love <3

Hi Rasberry,I love idioms from all countries. The literal meaning are so funny to imagine sometimes. Please come point them out to me anytime.


communication via text is tough. I had a job correcting co-worker's legal documentation and learned real fast to over describe my POV and tell people everyone is making these mistakes, you're not worse than coworkers, etc. With no visual cues, tone of voice, etc it is real easy to fill in the blanks with whatever is going on in YOUR mind. I bet covid is making this an issue for everyone.

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