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Inspired by “Who’s In Your Room?” By Ivan Misner, Stewart Emery and Rick Sapio

A positive trait that accompanies having ADHD is the predisposition for kindness, generosity and open mindedness towards new experiences and people. We are often welcoming all sorts of different personalities into our inner circle—the more the merrier right? Not necessarily.

Research shows that every single person that enters our lives leaves a mark. We are affected on a subconscious level by our inner circle, sometimes even prompting changes in our personality. So, why not be more selective?

Well, often people with ADHD have a difficult time identifying their values & needs. Ask yourself, what are my core values? What are my needs? What will bring me closer to becoming the best version of myself? This is the precursor to learning how to say NO.

Sometimes people may come knocking at your door with a hidden motive, or a request for a favour which doesn’t really benefit you at all. First and foremost, you have to determine whether they will fuel your energy and propel you closer to your goals, or whether they will drain your energy and weigh you down. In practical terms, what is the opportunity cost to letting this person in? What will you forego by attending to them? Be honest with yourself.


Now that you have determined that this person will only hinder your personal growth and character development, here are some practical ways say NO without hurting too many feelings:

  1. I’m not the person you’re looking for to do this job. I’m afraid I’d let you down. In saying this, you are affirming to the person that you wish them success and prosperity, however you would only impede their project due to lack of proper knowledge, or capacity in your schedule to accommodate them.

  2. Differentiate between an opportunity for growth and a distraction. Sometimes, the opportunity may interest you, however, if it doesn’t align with your values or help you on your mission, it is merely a distraction from your ultimate goal. Don’t allow yourself to stray off task. This will be especially helpful for people with ADHD who tend to welcome distractions and allow them to pile up until they realize they got no concrete work done.

  3. Refer them to someone who would be better suited for the job. You can still please people without directly offering your help or services. Instead, connect them with someone who has more knowledge and resources to help them. You don’t have to help someone simply because you can.

  4. Simply saying “I don’t do that”. This could be for a multitude of reasons, however it doesn’t require an explanation. Simply state that you don’t do the kinds of favours they’re asking, for them or anyone else. This way, they won’t take it personally.

  5. Avoid the snowball effect. Look out for your future self. Frequently accepting to help others will simply teach them that you are always available for their needs. This can create a pattern of being asked more and more favours, “snowballing” into a much larger problem that you didn’t even want to be involved in in the first place.

  6. Propose an alternative solution. If you are looking to continue building a relationship with this person, say “I can’t do that, but I can do ___________.” Propose an alternative solution that is realistic for you to accomplish and will not distract you from your goals. This will allow you to please the person without compromising your own development.

  7. Don’t be a broken record. Stand by your statements. If you decide to say “no”, don’t say “maybe”. Don’t allow people to coerce you into saying yes, repeat if you must. Be firm, but polite.

All this to say: Put yourself first!

Learning to say “no” is the most valuable skill for people with ADHD and people pleasers alike. Implementing these strategies into your life will allow you to be more in control of your inner circle and as a result, create a mindset which will facilitate your personal growth.


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