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How impulsivity is stopping you from getting promoted

adhd impulsivity productivity workplace Mar 01, 2022

People with ADHD are known for being a little bit more on the impulsive side: Impulsive decisions, impulsive outbursts, impulsive emotions, impulsive actions.

We could debate that what is seen as impulsivity, can be in fact the ADHD brain's ability in analyzing information at light speed. I have found that when I hang out with my ADHD friends, I always have to stay on the tips of my toes because nothing goes unnoticed and one bad tiny footstep and they will make a joke of it.

But this light speed, super-fast analysis process can also be damaging for relationships, at home, with the family, with friends, and also at work, with colleagues, even managers, and form of authority. 

It can lead you to a situation that you indeed, wish you hadn't impulsively reacted, or words you wished you hadn't spoken that made you regret it instantly after.

Worst, it might even lead to you getting fired, losing your job, getting in a fight, losing your friend, a partner, just because in a fraction of a second, your mind worked faster than you really had time to process it. Impulsivity, it's great when you are about to get hit by a bus, but in normal everyday interactions in life, it is often inhibiting. 

Impulsivity also comes from sensitivity. If someone says something that you really don't care about, well, you probably won't react at all. Impulsivity is emotionally driven, just like about anything ADHD.

If you have been stressed out by the workload, or someone at work is constantly pressuring you, or you are questioning your competence, because you are not going as fast as you wished or you don't feel like you fit in very well, wondering if you are going to get fired or not, chances are, the stress you are experiencing at work is making you more vulnerable and prone to impulsivity. 

That's not even getting going about the stress you have at home with your family, your children, maybe your sick mother, the payments, overwhelmed by the chores, and everything you have to do there.

When stress becomes the go-to how to get things done, it becomes also the fire feeding impulsivity to out of control. More stress, equal more fire, equal more impulsivity.

If you have been wanting to get a promotion, ask for a raise, or get to the next department, your impulsivity is not helping you get you there. 

Here are three stereotypes of the impulsive types I have encountered throughout my career and what others have said or concluded about the behavior:

 

Scenario 1: Impulsivity and emotional outburst

John is giving you the end of the year performance review. Out of 27 checkboxes, only 23 are 'excellent', the 4 other ones are 'good'. You think it's unfair because you really worked hard. But the moment you see the score, you are filled with a raging feeling of unfairness, and before you can receive more of the feedback and understand where you could improve or what's going on, you are already expressing your opinions about it, what you think about the company, your manager... and so on.

Conclusion made by your manager: You are difficult to work with. 

Even if the score was unfair, the moment you let your impulsivity take over, you lost two of the best qualities of a leader: adaptability and wanting to improve.

A leader that leads with anger is not safe nor is it appreciated.

Anger is a powerful emotion that drives us to make changes in our life. But when anger is impulsive or shown against any form of criticism, it's not helping you to step up as someone to look up to. 

 

Scenario 2: Impulsivity and emotional fluctuation

One day you come to work, you are feeling sad, and depressed, you decide to not talk to anybody and stay in your corner. The next day you are overly happy and you can't even stay at your desk. On the third day, you are ranting against the water bill at home and you can't shake off your anger and frustration. 

Conclusion made by your peers: You are unreliable

Even though all of your emotions are valid, if you impulsively act and react with them constantly, others will notice that you are not always approachable, that on different days, you will respond differently, and so they can't give you long-term responsibilities.

To become a leader, you have to be consistent and reliable in the eyes of others.

 

Even though you may not receive direct feedback from your colleagues, they might never vote for you to be their leader and get promoted if you are not paying attention to how your impulsive emotions are showing up.

 

Scenario 3: Impulsivity and unproductivity

You were given a week to complete a project, but today you don't feel like doing it, so you decided to come up with a new schedule for the team. What you thought was going to be a little distinction have now taken 4 days of your work week and you are left with only one day to get the most important task done.

Conclusion made by others: you don't care and you are inefficient

Even though you may care very much, if you have been given responsibilities for one particular project and you start tackling random projects in between, some people will start questioning if you really care about your work. 

A leader knows their priorities and work towards them.

I know the struggle of focusing on one thing, and how tempting it is to distract with something lighter, more dynamic, and more fun, but if that's you, you need to vocalize that. You need to get really clear with yourself and with your team on how you are going to achieve that project, and if you need multiple projects at a time to stay focused, how would that impact the overall workload?

 

 

What strategies do you have to manage the symptoms?

Impulsivity leads to major social consequences and impacts your credibility in getting in a role of a leader, getting a promotion, or a raise.

Whatever impulsivity you struggle with the most at work, you need to learn strategies on how to best cope with what comes up, and how it comes up.

  • What is your go-to when you get triggered?
  • What are you practicing to bring you back to focus on the important work to be done at work?
  • How do you communicate without reacting with your peers and leaders?
  • What do you do when you feel an impulse arise?
  • What do you currently do to help you release stress at work and diminish your impulsivity?

 

If you find yourself struggling in answering those questions, know that you are not alone and there are strategies that can help you!

 

Is it time for you to find the ways to be productive?

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