ADHD and Rudeness: How to Change People’s Perception of You
The connection between ADHD and rudeness is often baffling to people who have ADHD. They wonder why it's hard to make and keep friendships and why successful relationships are so difficult to maintain, and they are often hurt when others turn away, frustrated. Understanding why rudeness is part of ADHD can help you work to change people’s perception of you and make it easier and rewarding to be with others.
What Does ADHD Have To Do with Rudeness?
When asked about their idea of ADHD, people frequently conjure images of impulsivity, disorganization, and erratic energy, but rudeness? Yes, rudeness. Just ask anyone who lives or works with someone with ADHD.
When you examine what ADHD is, it makes perfect sense that people with it can appear rude. ADHD is a brain-based disorder involving in part the neurochemistry of the brain, the dopamine system in particular (Aguiar et al., 2010; CHADD, The Science of ADHD). The ADHD brain processes and reacts to things differently than a non-ADHD brain.
With ADHD, the brain doesn’t correctly attend to and interpret things like facial expression, tone of voice, and other non-verbal communication messages. Therefore, someone with ADHD misreads a lot of interpersonal interactions, doesn’t respond correctly, and comes off as rude.
The effects of ADHD that equate to rudeness include:
- A lack of impulse control that leads to interrupting
- Talking too much
- Abruptly walking away from a conversation.
- Not paying attention to people
ADHD and Rudeness: How You Might Appear to Others
Someone who interprets your ADHD behavior as rudeness can become irritated and frustrated. ADHD causes problems at work, school, with friends, and at home. Often, however, people with ADHD either don’t know that they’re being rude or don’t know how to fix it.
The idea of rudeness is a bit too vague. If you are wondering about your behaviors, this list can help you understand the specifics of ADHD and rudeness. People with ADHD:
- Can appear self-centered when they don’t take others’ feelings, needs, and wishes into consideration
- Send the message that they don’t think others are important when they miss deadlines, lose things, etc.
- Frequently interrupt others, showing lack of manners and disregard for the other person and his/her ideas
- Act impulsively by blurting out tactless things, saying the first thing that comes to mind rather than thinking about how their words will affect others
- Sometimes are over-energetic, coming on too strong
- Often talk too much, too loudly, and too rapidly
- Have a hard time listening attentively and tend to “space out” instead of paying attention to others
- Can have angry outbursts, which are off-putting
- Sometimes stand too closely too others, violating personal space
Any one of these behaviors can cause you to appear rude. If you have had experiences with others turning away from you because they’re irritated by rudeness, don’t worry; you can change people’s opinions of you.
Changing People’s Perceptions of You and Rudeness
People with ADHD easily get down on themselves and have low self-esteem. That’s why it’s important that you see this rudeness for what it is: a behavior that isn’t your choice but instead is an effect of ADHD. Change people’s perceptions of you by adding certain social skills to your behavior.
Without further ado, here are tips to help you gain some social skills in order to change people’s opinion of you, ADHD, and rudeness.
- Don’t argue or be defensive. Telling someone you’re not rude or arguing with their feedback only reinforces rudeness. Just start using new skills, and people will notice. Think of your high school English teacher’s rule: show, don’t tell.
- Identify how you want to be. What type of person do you want to project to the world?
- Then, observe others. How are they acting? Certain behaviors are associated with specific traits, such as warmth or competence (O’Hara, 2015). Figure out how people are acting, and emulate the traits you value.
- Take the initiative to apologize if you know you did something that warrants an apology. It’s important to admit to behavior that is rude or insensitive, even if you didn’t mean to do it.
- Don’t over-apologize. Constantly apologizing will be perceived as insincere, hollow, and annoying. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
- Look for opportunities to work with or otherwise spend time with others. When you’re with them, listen carefully, ask questions or otherwise express interest, refrain from interrupting or wandering off. Act like the type of person you decided you wanted be.
You aren’t your ADHD. Rudeness isn’t intentional, and it’s not a sign of a bad person or a person who can’t have rewarding relationships. You can have a fulfilling work and personal life. Like anything in life, you’re learning skills and adding them to your behaviors so the world sees not ADHD rudeness but the wonderful person you are.
Last Updated: 01 November 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD