In our Symptom Spotlight series, we focus different ADHD traits. This week: interrupting.

Why do people with ADHD interrupt others? Can we control it, or are we just rude?

I have always had a problem with interrupting people while they’re talking – or jumping in the exact millisecond they finish speaking!

Interrupting is a sign of ADHD that doctors are usually very familiar with, and it also stands out to our peers.

How are ADHD and interrupting linked?

My working memory isn’t great – this is quite common with ADHD. I lose my train of thought very easily, and I find it incredibly frustrating when it happens – which is often!

When I interrupt people, it is impulsive, because often if I don’t do it, I won’t remember what I wanted to say by the time someone is done speaking. Sometimes, I might focus so hard on what the thought is (to avoid forgetting it!) that I stop concentrating on what the other person is saying. 

How can I stop interrupting others?

Although I understand why I often interrupt people, I know I need to stop doing it. Interrupting others isn’t usually percieved to be socially acceptable, and it can damage our relationships with others. These can be both personal relationships, and those at school or in the workplace.

However, I’ve found a few ADHD-friendly strategies that help me stop interrupting.

  1. If it’s a long conversation (eg. a meeting), I jot down my thoughts on a piece of paper. This way, I won’t feel tempted to interrupt by the worry that I’ll forget what I want to say.
  1. I sometimes bend a finger for each point I want to make – it can help remembering the structure of my thoughts.
  1. Wait for a natural conclusion to a sentence to jump in. Don’t forget to actually listen to what is being said, however!
  1. If you have to interrupt, use phrases like “Is it ok if I interject something quickly?”. Also try to make your point as short as you can. This may be a surprise, but often the fewer words you use, the more easily you are understood!

What have you found works for you? Or do you make peace with interrupting and just try to do it tactfully? Let us know!

Are you interested in learning more about the symptoms of ADHD? Our Symptom Spotlight series is a great place to start!

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