View Full Version : Not able to follow verbal instructions.


Lloyd_
07-28-16, 05:39 PM
Past few months I've been in a few situations at work to where I was given strictly verbal instructions and working in a group environment which is my biggest weakness and even though I write things down it isn't always very practical in every situation.

Well needless to say a few of my superiors have not been thrilled and it's always the same old "you need to pay more attention" or " I told you to do it this way".

I work best when my assignments are laid out by myself personally or somebody else who allows me to work alone, I do great in that situation most the time.

But now a few of my superiors I get the feeling don't want to work with me now, It's so humiliating. But then again I could be overreacting and just focusing more on my screwups than my accomplishments.

I hate not being able to follow verbal directions, it's been the bane of my existence and especially when there is a lot of noise in the background, you can forget about it as far as being able to tune in.

The brainfog has been going away though since I've been on my thyroid hormone regiment since recently being diagnosed with hoshimoto's disease (hypothyroidism) which is something I STRONGLY recommend to all of you to get your thyroid checked out.

Despite the small steps forward I still have a ways to go and being inable to follow verbal directions seems to be something I am totally incapable of overcoming.

Everyone seems to be getting tired of my inability to follow verbal directions and I need some advice on what to do before I dig myself further into a deeper hole.

I am even considering looking for a new job, previous supervisor is now the bossman at another employer and wants me to jump aboard which is reassuring to me he at least thinks enough of me to say this! :D

Decisions, decisions decisions...sorry for the long winded rant.

namazu
07-28-16, 06:13 PM
Glad to hear that the Hashimoto's is getting under control.

Would it be possible to use a smartphone or small digital voice recorder discreetly in situations (like meetings) where you know you're likely to miss stuff you'll need to know later? They make really slim ones now, and even ones that are disguised as pens.

Given what you've said about your relationship with your supervisors, I'm not sure if you'd be comfortable asking, and I don't know the nature of your work, but another possibility would be to ask people to put things in writing for you. If you've disclosed your disabilities, this might be a reasonable accommodation to request. If you haven't disclosed your disabilities and don't want to do so, there might still be ways to ask for this accommodation (just calling it "something that would help me be sure I can [address your concerns / take care of these tasks] more efficiently" or something).

Do you have a sense of whether your difficulty following a conversation in a crowded room is due to distractibility or to trouble making out one person's voice over the other noise (or both)?

If it's largely a problem distinguishing speech, there are some tricks that people with auditory processing problems and hearing impairments sometimes use to help. One is to look at the speaker's mouth. Even if you can't totally read lips, it may help somewhat. Speech-language pathologists and the internet may have some other suggestions -- "auditory figure-ground" is a phrase that describes this type of processing what you want to listen to when there's a lot of background noise.

If it's more/also distractibility and your current ADHD treatment doesn't help enough, some possibilities might be:
- asking to move to somewhere less distracting ("Y'know, Alice, before you go any further, could we step out in the hall to discuss this? It's noisy in here."),
- stuff suggested above (watch speaker, record for later, etc.)
- be sure you don't have computer or smartphone distractions of your own in front of you

...

There is a website that may be of use to you called the Job Accommodation Network (http://askjan.org/index.html). It's sponsored by the U.S. Dept of Labor and has all kinds of information about disabilities in the context of employment. There's a searchable database of accommodations (http://askjan.org/soar/disabilities.html)for a wide variety of disabilities (including ADHD and LDs and chronic illnesses) in a wide range of different job settings.

Again, even if you don't want to formally request an accommodation, there may be ideas there for things you can do or tools you can use to circumvent some of the problems. I think you may also be able to write in with your scenario and someone there may provide advice (http://askjan.org/links/contact.htm).

...

And hey, if your previous supervisor thinks highly enough of you to ask you to apply for a job at the new place, that sounds like a possibility worth seriously considering. And yeah, that's definitely a good sign that your work is valued!

SB1985
07-28-16, 06:42 PM
My goodness man you just described so much of my life right there.

It is amazing how much better I am at following written or visual instructions than verbal. I mean, if you talk to me for more than a few seconds, you've pretty much lost me.

I wish I had some helpful insights - I think the post above mine is a great place to start. I think letting your bosses know ahead of time that you prefer things written down or recorded is a great way to go. I told my last boss in the interview that I need things written down, and he always reminded me in every meeting, even if it felt impractical at the time. I think people are generally more understanding than you think if you are honest and up front about your best ways of learning and following directions.

Either way, I wish you best of luck. If you find a system that works for you, check back in!

Fuzzy12
07-28-16, 07:52 PM
I can't follow verbal directions either. Neither at work nor in the doctor's clinic nor anywhere else. I need go write everything down but as you said that isn't always possible and convenient and even then it depends on me at least holding the instruction in ny brain for a few seconds till I get write it down.

When it comes to verbal instructions I try to make sure that everything is made explicit and is in sufficient detail for me to follow or to do ny own research and come up with my own method. I have a big problem with reading between the lines (especially verbally ). Either I need to find my own method or he told explicitly but I can't follow other people's methods if they aren't explicit..is that what you mean by laying out assignments yourself?

I'm sorry I dont have any advice. I think you got good advice from namazu and sb. Fingers crossed with the job hunt. I hope something works out with your previous supervisor. That might he a really good fit since he is probably familiar with the way you work and seems to be happy with that.

The only thing I can advise is to not be afraid to ask questions and get the level of detail you need and it's also ok to ask someone to pause so that you can write something down. Some people might find it annoying but at the end of the day what matters is that you get your job done. At least that's what I do and I'm sure some people find it annoying or at leaSt a bit bewildering but what can you do??

sarahsweets
07-29-16, 04:59 AM
I have this issue too. Especially with directions. If someone wants me to be somewhere and I can't use gps I have to write down everything including landmarks. If someone tries " turn right at the light then left at the stop" I'm lost.

DJ Bill
07-29-16, 06:34 PM
I have this issue too. Especially with directions. If someone wants me to be somewhere and I can't use gps I have to write down everything including landmarks. If someone tries " turn right at the light then left at the stop" I'm lost.

Yup.....My direction remembering skills work for one, maybe two turns at best.
I didn't realize how bad I was at following verbal instructions until I got in a position where that's what I had to do....Now I say...wait a sec, I gotta write this down....then I have to find the note later:o

Little Missy
07-29-16, 06:48 PM
Verbal instructions are the same as meeting someone. Flies right over me.

Cyllya
07-30-16, 02:12 AM
I have this problem. In my case, while I do have some problems with distractibility and auditory processing, I think it's mainly a problem with working memory. With written instructions, you can keep reading it over and over again as much as you need.

In conversations or meetings, where the to-do list is effectively created through discussion, it's especially difficult, just because of how disorganized the information is. (By contrast, it's not as hard to remember verbal information from a presentation or lecture.)

While I try to get instructions in writing as much as possible, if it's going to be verbal, I'm writing it down, even though it's inconvenient. If it takes long enough that I feel self-conscious, sometimes I tell people something like, "If it has more than two steps, I need to write it down." (I'm open about having ADHD, but I try to avoid mentioning it when I'm making unofficial off-the-record requests for accommodations. I feel like if you mention the symptom instead of the diagnostic label, people take it more like "I have trouble with [impairment], so I'm using [accommodation] to do a good job," which they're cool with, and less like "I can't do [task] how you want it because I have [disability]," which sometimes ruffles some feathers.)

I try to take notes quickly while they're talking (ideally without making them pause or repeat), then at the end of the discussion, I'll say, "Let me make sure I have this right," and refer to my notes to describe the instructions. Honestly, my notes tend to be pretty crappy, but repeating it at this point creates an "organized" version of the information (like a presentation instead of a discussion). They can correct me if needed.

For a bigger project, I'll send them an email after the discussion, with a more detailed version of how I understand the instructions, with bullet points and paragraphs and stuff. (I won't wait for them to confirm before getting to work, because if they're the kind of person who gives me instructions verbally, they're probably the kind of person who isn't too great with emails.) I usually won't bother with that for smaller tasks. Instead, when I send them an email to let them know I finished what they asked, I'll try to be clear about what exactly I did, so they have a chance to be like, "Wait, that's not what I wanted!!"

This seems to work out okay for me.

Although, a key ingredient is having coworkers that aren't total jerkwads. :umm1:

stef
07-30-16, 03:07 AM
OMG I can relate to everything here. i must also have some auditory processing problem.

so yesterday im in my bosses' office. he gives me the folder thing of signed checks for'accounting depr, and one other paper and says something, then he says, now, check and let me know, is the confrence room available the morning of Aug 10? so im like ok! and turn around halfway to leave and i say wait did you say the 8 th or the 10th? ( they sound similar in French). of course this annoys hiim so i practically run back to my desk scribble aug 10th , and call reception to book'the room. its stuff like this every day. I literally felt what he had said slip out of my mind. i just couldnt grasp it.

Fortunately i get most of my instructions by email.

Radio Hiker
08-02-16, 09:34 AM
I can identify with a lot of what's being said here. This is one reason I carry around a Franklin Covey dayplanner with a notepad inside. Once a week I meet with my boss to go over stuff, and I make notes as we go. If I couldn't do that, I would be lost.

KarmanMonkey
08-02-16, 01:22 PM
I hate the idea of Google Glass and the like for so many reasons, but I do wish I had a constant record loop going on, and I could hit a button to replay the last 5min, or even sometimes the last 30sec of conversation...

I like to make sure someone is taking minutes at any meeting I attend, and I love it when action items are broken down by person.

With e-mail I get so much that looks like junk and isn't, and visa versa, that it's hard for it to be an effective tool for me.

Largely I just communicate to people that my memory is horrible, and ask that if there's something important, to please try and be redundant in the request. For example, leave me a post-it and tell me, or tell me and e-mail, or relay by carrier pigeon. I really don't care, as long as people know that the importance of an item has no bearing on my ability to remember it.

Edit: If I ever come into a significant amount of money, the first thing I'm doing is hiring a personal assistant.

acdc01
08-03-16, 03:46 PM
I always ask someone else to take notes for me. I flat out tell people that I'm a horrible notetaker and just can't do it well so could you please take notes for me at the meeting? No one thinks much of it at all. Only thing is I have to check out how good of notetakers people are before I choose who to ask to help me. Some NTs also suck at notetaking.

I also encourage emailed instructions, and smaller group meetings in empty quite rooms to the extent that I can.

A tape recorder is illegal to use in some places (you'd have to check your own location) without others consent just as an fyi. Still, I doubt anyone would know if you wanted to use one.

That's great about your previous supervisor. If it's a good job, maybe that is a good oppurtunity.

namazu
08-03-16, 04:29 PM
A tape recorder is illegal to use in some places (you'd have to check your own location) without others consent just as an fyi. Still, I doubt anyone would know if you wanted to use one.
That's a good point.

My quick (and maybe unreliable) read of miscellaneous websites suggests that in Alabama, you are legally allowed to record any conversation that you are part of, without the consent of the other parties. You can't go around recording other people's conversations, though. If this is the case, there should be no legal problem with using a concealed digital audio recorder to record your own conversations at work. (Consult a local lawyer if you want an authoritative answer!)

However, if your boss or a coworker found out you had been recording, the legality might not prevent them from being upset or suspicious. So if you decide to try this and don't want to disclose your disability (up front or in response to queries about the audio recording), be very discreet. If you do decide to formally disclose your disability, this should certainly be a reasonable accommodation.

salleh
08-04-16, 02:07 AM
ONe of the things I learned when I was studying to be a teacher, ( grade school level) ...is that there are 3 main ways people learn ....

1) auditory
2) reading
3) tactile .....


My ex was dyslesic ( or however you spell that ) ...and he learned early to listen and work from there ....whereas I am a tactile learner ....with a side of reading learning ( but not always ) .....he used to get very angry at me cause what I hear just goes in one ear and races out the other .....Just listen ! he'd growl ....and until I learned this about learning styles I felt all guilty about it ....


this has nothing to do with ADD or ADHD ....every person who learns, uses mainly one of those 3 ..... and to try to use another method, is like a right-hander trying to do things with their left hand .....


It may well be that few ADD folks learn audioly , but it sounds like most of you guys do fine reading instructions .....

once you get that figured out, then you have to make it known to whoever is trying to tell you something .....instructions from bosses are like instructions from teachers .....

there's no shame in not learning by listening ....anymore than Tom should have been ashamed about not be able to read easily ....we all have our ways ....and it certainly doesn't mean anyone is incapable of learning or taking instructions .....just has to be done the way you can process the info

Oddoutlier
12-11-16, 01:17 AM
A sense of rage fuels inside me when someone tells me "You do not listen." I use active listening to help me remember and understand instructions, which really works. My brain switches the information from working memory to long term memory by associating it with familiar concepts. Taking notes is also a very useful tool, but going back to find the notes has been a bit of a conundrum. I inform people that if it is important to please email me the details and if they need time with me to send me a calendar invite. I accept that my working memory is insufficient, rather than focus on the problem I prefer to focus on a solution. From time to time, a peer or manager will complain about I how listen or for exact words state I don't listen, but I know that I do. It is frustrating when people think it should be so easy for me, if it was then I wouldn't have an issue. Fortunately, my strengths are in demand and I am able to request for accommodation, but it doesn't always happen. Transparency is all I can control and if my employer wants me to be productive then they should give me the support to be able to perform.

john2100
12-11-16, 06:00 AM
I have to write down instructions and only then read them back to the customer and have the customer correct me if necessary. It sounds like an overkill and it is often not necessary but I lost so much money because I wasn't aware that I had this problem at first place. Even if I think I know exactly what they said, I'm often wrong. I have no idea if it is ADHD, but it is pretty annoying.

Also my mistake would cost me usually $200 or more a day.

A client would say, go to 42-A a replace a unit close to the wall,and unit 42-B only needs a tune up. Don;t forget that 41-A needs to be tested again.

Then I would go to work in the morning and of course not remembering a word, sitting in my car and waiting for my client to finally pick up after 4h, because I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do.

Now I have to write it down otherwise I'll be calling them back.

Do you think it is like some verbal dyslexia?

john2100
12-11-16, 06:08 AM
I have this issue too. Especially with directions. If someone wants me to be somewhere and I can't use gps I have to write down everything including landmarks. If someone tries " turn right at the light then left at the stop" I'm lost.

My father could remember even 10 left and right directions. I honestly can't even 1 direction,,,was it right or left?

My mother is like me.

When I ask him how does he do it, he said he was driving in his head when the directions were given and placing trademarks in his memory at the turns.
What is interesting he was able to remember even after many years when going back the same route. I tried it too, but it was impossible for me to do it.

john2100
12-11-16, 06:25 AM
Everyone seems to be getting tired of my inability to follow verbal directions and I need some advice on what to do before I dig myself further into a deeper hole.

I am even considering looking for a new job, previous supervisor is now the bossman at another employer and wants me to jump aboard which is reassuring to me he at least thinks enough of me to say this!


Don't quit your job over it, If there is frustration from their side, just explain in to them the same way you are explaining it here. I wouldn't tell them I can't follow the written instructions, but I would tell them .

"I am used to writing it down because it increases my efficiency and eliminates any assumptions and mistakes. " Once they get used to it. They will know you are writing it down first. So when you get a phone call ,the boss would be like: "Ok, Are you writing it down" ,,"yes,I'm ready" .

I think a good boss should be happy about it, it takes more time but it should make you an employee with the least mistakes. Why would any boss with common sense be against it.

It also creates a written record for your boss , so when your boss is in doubt and need to verify something he knows you are having excellent record of any conversation , hopefully with dates,time,phone number, and names .

stef
12-11-16, 09:19 AM
i have the same problem at work, i usually get emails but if not i have to write everything down

jkimbo
12-11-16, 03:54 PM
I have exactly the same problem and in addition to that also wear 2 small modern hearing aides. So not only do I have to deal with listening and staying focused but also having to try to hear every freaking word and I totally hate soft spoken people. SPEAK UP!

At my job I would much rather read the instructions over and over again if I have to. Thankfully we get hundreds of emails a day about everything, even a repeat meetings in written form.

I totally suck in class room situations! One on one not as bad but expect me to ask the same question a few times lol

What I hate is when I hear from some one that another person referred to me as a good worker but slow. Little do they know I get a flood of thoughts sometimes and I simply can not keep up and like a computer sometimes when that happens my brain crashes. I think you folks call that a mind blank. I prefer a crash.

ginniebean
12-11-16, 05:22 PM
I have a hard time listening to verbal instructions. As well. i just can't follow nore than one.. Maybr two then that's it.

intothewind
12-13-16, 11:15 PM
I find that often I can listen to verbal instructions just fine. It is following through with them that is the problem. It is embarrassing as I can't really say I completely forgot when reminded that I promised such and such last week.... I think if I'm not sure I just put it off.

Jenn1202
12-14-16, 01:53 PM
I can't remember verbal instructions and I suck at taking notes so...

namazu
12-14-16, 02:59 PM
I can't remember verbal instructions and I suck at taking notes so...
Voice recorder?

JosieK
12-14-16, 03:05 PM
Every time I'm told something important, or told something that I need to remember, I write it down. I have post-it note around me all the time. I have to or I will forget. The worst feeling is when I know there was something important that I was supposed to remember, but I can't for the life of me remember what the heck it was. I have to write things down.

It's not so bad if someone is telling me something on a one-on-one basis. I'm obviously more likely to stay mentally engaged. If I'm sitting in a meeting or sitting in a classroom setting, it can be a nightmare. My mind starts drifting and I realized I missed something...or a lot of things. I might ask the person talking to repeat themselves. If I'm too embarrassed to do that, I may just ask my neighbor what was said or look at what they are writing down. I can also be watching tv or a movie, drift off, and have to ask what happened or what was said. Between that and my fidgeting, I must drive the people around me nuts. Ugh, so embarrassing!

Lloyd_
12-14-16, 05:29 PM
I'm starting to learn that working with other people who are also ADD is as much of a challenge as to dealing with non ADDers and when you have your superior who is ADD and another coworker then it becomes almost comical, some days I'll have to question whether I'm either Larry, Curly or Moe? :lol:

In other words it's not always going to be your fault if the ball gets dropped, some ADDer's are terrible with delegating information whereas I'm the opposite, I'm great with explaining things but terrible with processing verbal instructions on the receiving end.

I found that asking the bossman to repeat himself is good way to minimize the potential chance of screwing up.

Jenn1202
12-14-16, 05:42 PM
Voice recorder?

The problem is that my boss gives me verbal instructions at random times throughout the day. I can't record her every single time she says something.

Lloyd_
02-21-17, 12:19 AM
The problem is that my boss gives me verbal instructions at random times throughout the day. I can't record her every single time she says something.

I'm in the same situation and it makes it especially difficult to hear and listen with noise in the background. I wish there was a magic pill or procedure that could make this problem just go away. :(

spacecadet8
05-01-17, 10:43 AM
oh god this happens to me all the time - at really critical points - with clients. Can you imagine that I have to take minutes at meetings too! its so hard capturing the essence of everyone's sentences.

Little Missy
05-01-17, 12:08 PM
I end up making up my own instructions. :eek:

stef
05-01-17, 02:25 PM
i have to scan things that are later sent in emails to clients,
my boss just says to name the attachments " contract " or something really obvious so then i have to run back to my desk and scribble this down, or else i forget by the time the thing is out of the scanner ( 10 seconds usually)

oceansOfmotion
05-02-17, 12:47 AM
I have to write down instructions and only then read them back to the customer and have the customer correct me if necessary.
...
Now I have to write it down otherwise I'll be calling them back.

Do you think it is like some verbal dyslexia?

Labeling it doesn't help. If it hasn't happened already, someone giving you instructions will get it wrong in their own heads.


Writing instructions down and reading it back is good business.