ADHD and Conflicts in Style

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – September 19, 2022

Working with those with ADHD, I find they have a certain processing style that varies by individual. While this is not ADHD specific, those with ADHD are more dependent on a more dominant style. It’s a common occurrence in those with ADHD, as they have a working memory issue in how they process things. Let me give you an example.

I like visual reminders, but when items are spread out on the counter, it becomes a burden; it’s visual clutter. It inhibits my ability to focus or concentrate. For others, it’s out of sight, out of mind. This can cause conflict in couples where one of them is very visual and the other is overwhelmed by what they see as clutter.

What I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t change someone’s dominant way of thinking. It’s not about trying to get someone to do things in a different way. It’s really acknowledging their unique brain wiring so they can engineer an environment where they can coexist with those around them.

In my video, “ADHD and Conflicts in Style,” I share an example of what this might look like for a couple at home. I also share tips about the different styles as a good metaphor to understand it and talk about practical solutions. Watch this video for insights.


Welcome, everybody, to this edition of Attention Talk Video. I’m your host, ADHD and attention coach Jeff Copper. And today I’m here to talk about ADHD and a difference in style. Often I find when I’m working with those with ADHD, they have a certain processing style and it varies by individual. This is not ADD specific, but sometimes those with ADHD are more dependent on a more dominant style.

And what I want to do today is I want to talk about a common occurrence that I see when I’m working with somebody with ADHD, and that is working memory and how they process. What I have on the counter here is I have three things. I have a medicine bottle, I have a miner’s flashlight, and I have a handyman reference guide.

So these represent items that need to be due, the prescription needs to be refilled, I need to hire a handyman to install or mount a TV, and I need to get some new batteries for the flashlight. Now, for some people, a very effective way for them to manage a to-do list is to leave an object out that’s a visual reminder, i.e. these three particular things on this counter. So when they walk by, it’s not like they have to remember to pull it out from a drawer or something, but it’s just literally on the counter. And they remember to do it, or they’ll make a list when they go. In other words, what happens is, is they don’t have to recall what that item is, is they actually see it and it helps them think about what they need to do and go execute that task.

Now, for me in individually, I do like visual reminders, but on everyday life, when stuff is spread on the counter like this, it’s a burden to me, it’s visual clutter. I can’t seem to focus and concentrate. So what my preference is, is it needs to go to a home. And this basket over here is an example of a home where I might just put these items and I would list them on to-do.

Now you can see that the counter is clear, and then that is aesthetically pleasing to me. And if I needed to do a high level of executive function, I would sit down and be able to focus because I’m void of the negative… Not the negative, but the reminders of some of the things that I have to do, it kind of frees my mind if you will.

So my point really here is, is that some people need the visual reminders in order to do it. And for others, if it’s out of sight out of mind. And I find this often happens with couples where one of them is very, very visual and one of them that visual clutter, it overwhelms them and makes it difficult for them to frustrate and therein lies the battle zone.

What I’ve learned over the years is you’re not going to change the dominant way of thinking about each other. And the best thing for you to do is to really kind of work to negotiate areas for clutter zones. So for example, this might be my workspace that needs to be clean, but there might be another room where your spouse or significant other would have their stuff. And there’s just piles of stuff that’s around that are visual reminders.

For me, I’ve actually had that experience in my life. And what I would do is if this was a reminder, wasn’t mine and it was left here, all I would do is I would just take it to that significant other’s area.

And so basically, I turn my mind off. That area is whatever’s there, there’s nothing there that’s theirs or mine. and I’m able to kind of block it out and go to the spaces that are nice and clean. This isn’t necessarily an ADD thing. It’s really a difference in style, but often the person with ADHD is the one that at is considered to be unorganized.

And sometimes it gets a little bit of flack of it, particularly because many of them are visual and they need to leave the reminders out. Whereas the spouse likes it to be free of visual clutter. Again, what I’ve learned over the years, it’s not about coaching one individual or the other individual to do it a different way. It’s really an acknowledgement that you have different processing styles and for you to engineer an environment where you can coexist.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip today on different styles. I hope we gave you a good metaphor to really kind of understand this. We hope that you enjoyed this.

Please subscribe to our channel by hitting the subscribe button below. We send out weekly tips on ADHD and insights and one of my specialties is really to pay attention to what people are pay attention to, i.e. I’m leaving it out as a visual reminder, remind to do something or its visual clutter I need to put away. Hope you’ve enjoyed this video, please subscribe. Take care.


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