Getting in Sync with Office Politics
Being in touch with office politics, knowing how to translate what your superiors are really saying, and understanding your role in the bigger scheme of things are all important strategies for preserving your job.
Because of their inability to read nonverbal cues, their tendency to blurt out inappropriate comments, and their difficulty in working well with others, many ADHD adults are out of the loop when it comes to office politics.
The fact is that success at work is often a case of who you know, not what you know.
Tips for Getting in the Loop
Here are some strategies that will help keep you in the loop and prevent you from becoming an unwitting victim of office politics.
Ask colleagues to rephrase or otherwise clarify important points. Because you're unable to read between the lines of a conversation, you may misunderstand what is actually being said or done. If you aren't sure you really heard the message, ask someone to rephrase it, repeat it, or clarify it until you're positive you get it.
Develop a network of trusted work allies who can translate for you. Just as you'd want to take someone to a party to interpret body language and small talk, you may want to develop a network of friends at work who can interpret office politics for you — especially if it's going to impact your position.
Even better, it's not as difficult as you might think to learn to read nonverbal cues and body language yourself. You can hire a body language expert to teach you or pick up nuances by reading books or attending seminars on the topic. Practice at home by watching a foreign movie with the English subtitles off and then watch it again with the subtitles on to see what you lost in translation.
Stay Focused at Boring Meetings
It's hard for anyone to weather a long, boring meeting without drifting off. But for an ADHD adult, the threat is even greater because of symptoms of inattention, which makes it difficult to follow long conversations, and hyperactivity, which makes it difficult to sit still for long periods of time.
Break up long, tedious meetings by escaping to the restroom. Try splashing water on your face to clear your head, swinging your arms to release tension, or doing standing push-ups against a wall to work out the kinks in your neck and shoulder muscles. Your restroom workout should leave you sufficiently alert to withstand another hour of boredom.
Stash a squishy ball or your favorite pet rock in your briefcase and take it out at the start of the meeting to roll between your hands or play with. Don't forget to bring a pen and legal pad to take notes and doodle during slow points.
It may also help to get up and move around a little. If it's a two-hour meeting with no intermission, prepare to excuse yourself after an hour and go for a quick walk, if only to get your blood moving.
If you can't make a getaway to the restroom or if the meeting is too formal for you to play with a ball or doodle, try wiggling your toes, twirling your ankles, and flexing your feet to stay alert. As long as your feet are under the table, no one will be the wiser!