By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q: I have ADHD and find my workplace challenging. I've told my manager that I struggle with this issue, but he does not care. I cannot help that my brain wiring is different than my co-workers. How can I get my manager to give me latitude on my work?
A: Unfortunately you cannot force your manager to care about the wiring of your brain. Many people in the workplace struggle with mental illness, learning differences, mood disorders, physical disabilities and still have to compete with others.
Yes, our federal laws have guidelines that employers have to accommodate some of these challenges, but in the real world it is difficult to require employers to follow these guidelines.
Your question gets to the heart of our beliefs on how the world should be ideally and how the world is realistically. Most of us would be happier to live in a kinder, gentler world but that is not currently the planet you inhabit.
Employers employ you in exchange for you overcoming whatever challenges you have to help them create productivity and/or profit. If your shortcomings prevent you from helping your employer, then your career will be tough.
Believe it or not, ADHD brains have strengths as well as weaknesses. Your brain can multitask like no one else. You can see and respond to more issues on the job than any of your co-workers. You are good in a crisis and have tons of energy. Your brain gave you gifts as well as deficits.
The tough thing is your brain sees all tasks as equally important. ADHD brains need to make extra effort to prioritize tasks and stay on track. My clients with ADHD use every time management tool and have their cellphones alert them to important meetings and give them other reminders. People with ADHD lose track of time and can drop lots of balls without time management tricks.
If you have not read books on your brain and how to manage it, then please do so. It is not your boss's job to tell you how to manage your ADHD. Once you have a plan, share it with your boss.
Instead of demanding special treatment, share with your boss how you are coping. If you communicate how you are solving your problem you are more likely to receive accommodations.
Do not leave your well-being in the hands of others. If we want or need special treatment it is up to us to make it appealing and easy for those around us. Instead of making ultimatums, make proposals. Instead of requiring empathy, provide information. Instead of making demands, create negotiations where what you need benefits everyone around you and watch your career thrive.
The last word(s)
Q: I have an employee who is always flattering me and I find it suspicious. Am I just looking a gift horse in the mouth?
A: No, as American writer Minna Antrim said, "Between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt." Too much flattery is usually a smoke screen for someone who does not want you to look too closely at their real motivations.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)