How To Listen More Effectively For ADHD Adults

Share ideas you like


Topic: How To Listen More Effectively. The benefits and costs of not listening effectively, barriers to listening, how feeling  affect listening. Listening is not the same as hearing, what makes listening better? Verbal, and non-verbal signs. See the other Adult ADHD Issues.

Facilitator: Pete Quily.

Thanks to Christopher Stanbury for taking the notes.

May 5th 2013 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group

Many adults with ADHD have problems with listening effectively to other people. Poor listening skills can hurt them at work, academically, in their marriage, and in their personal relationships.

How To Listen More Effectively.

1. Listening Skills


A. Benefits

Better professional and personal relationships

Get the job done properly

Less confusion

Shows respect


B. Costs of not listening effectively



Social status



C. Barriers

Appearing to be not listening

Background noise

Day dreaming

Difficulty in focusing


Focusing on self – not on the person speaking

Medication working / not working

Monotone speech – not interesting



Slow Talkers


Thinking of response vs listening fully to speaker

Wanting to be somewhere else

Working on our own answer, or what we want to say

Worrying about the future

Your own anxiety

Zone out


D. Feelings affect listening

Distractions can take you off your focus if you let them

Getting triggered emotionally can get you to focus on your past unresolved and unexamined emotional patterns vs being present and listening

Hyper-focusing on topic mentioned will take you off into your own world


Playing with phone

You show lack of interest

Will influence your behavior


E. Priorities

Bad listening habits

Body language


Have already made decision

Not providing non-verbal clues to speaker that you are listening


Uncomfortable with topic – have a bias

Working on answer you think they want


2. Listening is not the same as hearing

Listening requires:

Controlling your self talk


Paying attention to how people are saying it

Wanting to tell your own story rather than listening and responding to their story doesn’t go over well with others

There is a fine line between empathizing and hijacking the conversation


Pay attention to speakers:

Body language


Way of speaking

Listening effectively shows respect

Not bothering to pay effectively attention to the speaker can be perceived by others as selfishness, contempt and arrogance whether or not that is your deliberate intent or if you’re just running on autopilot vs being more conscious.


3. What makes listening better?


A. Verbal signs

Things that show you want to listen

Constructive feedback

Let speaker know if you can’t hear them

Eliminate distractions

Ask relevant questions:

For clarification

For example

For visuals

Clarify for understanding. Repeat in your own words “Am I getting what you are saying correctly?”

Acknowledge and respond

Acknowledge what you agree with

Acknowledge your own feelings / emotions

Give positive reinforcement – without interrupting


Perception checking

Put yourself in other person’s place

Slow the pace

Stay calm – show you are listening

Summarize the main points you agree on

The more you actively engage in the coversation, the easy it is for you to pay attention

The more you’re a passive, disengaged listener, the harder it is for you to pay attention and the easier it is for you to tune out, miss things etc


B) Non-verbal signs

Eye contact

Facing the person squarely on

Keeping hands and feet still, heart caring


Smiling – facial expression – mirroring

Trying to be attentive


4. Summary

Avoid personal prejudice

Be attuned to where you are

Be open minded, be there

Be prepared to listen

Don’t finish other people’s sentences

Don’t interrupt when the speaker is complaining about you – wait until they are finished so they will feel they got their message across, and not needing to keep repeating it – before you defend yourself.

Don’t second guess

Face speaker

Focus on what person is saying – not on what you want to hear

Get other things out of your head

Give them time to finish, be patient

If you’re feeling angry or threatened say something like “I want to hear what you want to say, but at the present moment it is not a good time for me – can we talk about this at another time?”

Listen to ideas – not just words

Maintain eye contact without staring them down like a cowboy at a gunfight


Minimize distractions

Minimize internal distractions

Practice focusing on one thing:

Breathing. Remember too:) Notice how you’re breathing and adjust it as required




Put the speaker at ease

Respond appropriately

Stop talking

Use more than your ears

Wait until the speaker is finished

When wrong – admit it

Related Adult ADHD Issues Posts

Share ideas you like