The Fear of Feedback — ADHD Communication at Work

4 Tips for handling tough feedback at work


We do it everyday, and it is a part of most of our interactions.

Yet, in the workplace, it holds drastically different implications.

Mastering the art of effective business communication can do wonders for your productivity and morale. It can also open the door of opportunity. Yet, ADHD tends to make communication difficult. Remembering things, gathering your thoughts, and controlling your impulses are much harder; this gets in the way of how you speak, and and how you listen to other people, too.

This is not your fault.

We’re bringing you some quick tips on dealing with feedback to ensure that you are your happiest, healthiest, most fulfilled self at work.

What Makes Feedback so Tough?

Many ADHDers are much more sensitive to criticism and critique - this is totally normal. You may be experiencing rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD). For those experiencing RSD, the amygdala, which is the emotional command center of our brain, gets hijacked - and the fight, flight, or freeze response takes over the body.

Even if you know constructive feedback is good for you, it may still be hard to regulate our defensive emotional responses towards it. To make this process easier, it can help to better understand why our emotions can get in the way:

  • When approached with a threat, our brains have a natural tendency to go into fight or flight. The increased amounts of hormones being released into our bloodstream are the cause of heightened emotion.
  • When we receive constructive criticism, we perceive it as a threat and an alarm goes off in our brains. The fear of being “cast out” not only prevents us from receiving feedback well, but also giving feedback to others.

Feedback is tough on everyone, and can be especially so for folks with ADHD. But, if approached in a healthy way, not only does it bring you one step closer to fulfilling your professional goals–it also opens up a window for immense personal growth.

4 Tips to be More Receptive to Feedback at Work

  1. 📈 Set Professional Goals: Goals can enable stronger alignment between company objectives and team and personal goals. Goals also allow you to regularly check progress and have conversations around your professional development.
  2. Be Curious and Ask Questions: Try to get a good understanding of what exactly your manager or colleague is telling you, so you can better address the issue. Remember that different perceptions could play a role here, and as such you want to get down to the facts rather than opinions.
  3. 🤔 Take time to process your emotions: It's easy to have an emotional reaction when hearing negative comments. If your knee-jerk reaction is anger or defensiveness, take a deep breath, remain calm, and keep your feelings in check
  4. 🌱 Know that negative feedback isn't a personal attack: Good negative feedback is about your actions or your behavior, not about who you are as a person. Don't let difficult feedback lower your self-confidence because your self-worth isn't related to someone else's opinion of you.

Work Feedback (Closing Thoughts)

Improving your ability to receive feedback at work is not a quick and easy process. It may take time and practice. If you find yourself in need of support, ADHD coaching may be beneficial. A Shimmer ADHD coach can help you identify the people, environments, and situations that tend to trigger RSD. They’ll guide you through tools and strategies for dealing with feedback both in the moment, and afterward, when your brain wants to spiral. Don’t let ADHD stand in the way of professional growth–try Shimmer today.

Curious to hear more about feedback? Check out our co-founder & CEO, Chris Wang’s podcast episode with the ADHD reWired podcast (#1 Adult ADHD Podcast) here.

Interested in more content like this?

Join our newsletter!
You have been successfully subscribed to our newsletter!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Ready to make changes in your life?
Work with a Shimmer ADHD coach to experiment with strategies and craft a routine that works for YOU. Start your journey now with early access.
If you’re interested in writing with us, email

Explore more