I am having this issue and its driving me mad. I feel that under stress and pressure I’m pretty good at keeping my cool and not letting the acute stressful situation overwhelm me. I can solve problems and keep some sort of order. That’s is unless I’m required to speak in an intelligent way, which I normally have no problem with. The second that I have to speak to a prof, boss or any sort authority figure I cannot for other life of me recall intelligent words, no matter how often I use them otherwise. Instantly I become this blubbering idiot and I can’t get words or thoughts, that I’ve just had, to appear. my mind blanks, floods with everything except what I want to say and I’m left to apologize for wasting of their time. Emails are great, but unfortunately SOME human contact needs to be made through out my day. Any suggestions?Patte RosebankParticipant
@Sar316, ADD’ers often have trouble performing under pressure—specifically, the pressure of being under scrutiny. So, you’re definitely not alone!
Have you thought about why you feel such pressure in those situations? Could it have something to do with past experiences?
Maybe, when you were a child, your dealings with authority figures usually involved them criticizing or punishing you. And maybe, those past experiences are colouring the way you interact with authority figures now. If you’re expecting them to treat you like that naughty/underachieving child, then you will “turn into” that child, expecting to be in trouble yet again. (Pretty deep, eh?) But I’m learning just how much impact the experiences of a person’s childhood can have on them throughout their lifetime.
Now, how can we take some of that performance anxiety off you, the next time you need to talk to a authority figure?
I find it’s helpful to go to a quiet spot and take some slow, deep breaths. Concentrate on your breathing, and it’ll calm you down, and slow the panicked, racing thoughts. Remember, you’re not a naughty child any more. You’re an adult, and you deserve to be taken as seriously as any other adult, including those in authority.
It also helps to visualize the situation, and rehearse it in your mind. Picture it going well, as the words you need come easily to you. You could even do a little role-playing with a friend or family member. The more you do this, the more confident you’ll become in those actual situations.
A trick I learned in broadcasting class is to Slow Down. If you speak more slowly, and feel free to take pauses instead of needing to fill every moment with sound and filler-words (“um”, “you know”, “like”), you won’t feel such a panic to find the right words, because they’ll have enough time to form in your mind before you need to say them. It takes practice, but it does work! (Note to self: need more practice…)
Marilyn Monroe and Rowan Atkinson both slowed down their speaking, to overcome their natural nervous stammers. Daws Butler was crippled by shyness, as a child, but he took public speaking classes in high school, and learned the techniques to conquer it…and grew up to become a legendary voice artist (who played Yogi Bear, Elroy Jetson, and hundreds of other characters) and an equally legendary voice teacher!darktendrilMember
Sar316, I have that same issue – I normally have no problem speaking, but sometimes if I feel anxious about making a good impression, I seem to lose control of the filter that translates the swirling vortex of thoughts in my head into intelligent conversation. If I just let the words flow, I become that blubbering idiot. On the other hand, if I think too much about what I am going to say beforehand, it comes out sounding over-controlled and weird (at least to me). Sadly, because of this, I will sometimes have something to say, and just not say it, if it seems like too much effort..
Slowing down though does seem to help. I have not tried slowing down my actual speech, as Larynxa suggested, but I think I will. That might take some practice though 🙂 If I have to give a presentation or something though, sometimes I will stop to take a sip of water, if only to give myself a second to recollect my thoughts.
I think working on somehow reducing or working with the anxiety is also a very great idea. Anxiety can actually shut down parts of your brain needed for logical thought. Before you have to talk to someone who makes you nervous, visualizing the outcome you want (that you are speaking confidently and intelligently) is supposed to help. Make sure you are not visualizing things that you don’t want to happen, or worst-case scenarios. I think that a lot of ADHDers are bad for negative self-talk, which doesn’t help at all. Sometimes when I catch myself criticizing myself in my head, I imagine that the words are coming from a talking goose. lol. I don’t know why a goose, maybe because it is hard to take insults coming from a goose seriously 🙂 you’d have to pick what works for you. I usually insult the goose back. And it is just silly enough to make myself lighten up 🙂dithlParticipant
I hear you loud and clear!
I try to think about it as an ADHD-related processing problem, it helps to take away from the self-blame. I tend to get through half of a fantastic sentence, and then hit a wall and fumble for words.
— Take care of yourself. I don’t know about you, but after a few days of not sleeping or eating well, I can hardly string two words together.
— I’m still working on slow down as well….give time for your mouth to catch up to your thoughts. Or vice-versa.
— Know your talking points, and stick to them (jot them down if possible). Sometimes,tangents are not your friend.
— This may or may not be feasible in your job, but think of what control you have over when and where you talk. (Schedule for time of day when you are usually at your best, suggest an alternate time to meet if you feel caught off-guard).
–At times, I tell people that I sometimes fumble for words, and asked them to ask questions if anything is unclear. I don’t make it a biggie, but it also puts it out there and makes both of us responsible for the communication.
— Accept it. So you don’t always speak clearly. Big deal. What shines is your personality, and your ideas will get across in some fashion. I have worked with people with significant speech issues, which did not take away from their professionalism.
— I know that last one sounds a little simplistic and even patronizing, but it really helped me once I figured it out. It didn’t take away the problem, but it helped me deal with it. It’s like finally accepting that it’s pouring rain outside and you don’t have an umbrella — then stepping out anyway because you want to go places!
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