ADHD boss is infuriating

by Wit's End
(Rhode Island)

My 53-year-old entrepreneur boss is infuriating to work with. All the classic symptoms of both distractibility and impulsivity. He doesn't think things through, pays attention to almost nothing and remembers even less. Small problems must escalate to crises before he will act on them, and he behaves in ways that are detrimental to the business.


Thank God I have my own therapist to talk with about it. She says I should just leave. It's a reasonably good job and I don't want to, but I am exhausted trying to put out the fires and arguing with him all the time (he pays attention to nothing unless there's sufficient adrenaline associated with the topic). The bigger his mistakes and missteps, the more deceptive or combative he becomes about them.

I have a brother who is exactly like this so I'm sure I'm being triggered in ways I'm not entirely aware of either.

My boss is a good guy and a sincerely caring person (when he's actually paying attention). But it is emotionally exhausting having to escalate everything enough just to engage his brain -- I don't want everything to turn into a fight!

Superficially he is friendly and kind, but when he repeatedly misses client deadlines, misses payroll, and makes impulsive and emotional decisions that harm the business, it causes inevitable conflict. He surrounds himself with people who can make up somewhat for his shortcomings, but we can't stop him from screwing things up regularly. We all end up just shaking our heads and trying our best to get on with it.

As the senior-most member of the team, I have tried many, many times to talk with him gently about these habits and tendencies. To encourage him to behave differently for the sake of his business and his relationships (his business is always struggling, and he's never had a long-term romantic relationship).

In his more reflective moments he admits that he probably has always had ADD or ADHD, and that it does cause significant problems for him, but he flat-out refuses to get treatment of any kind. He thinks he's done ok thus far, so he can't be that bad. And counseling is for sick or weak people.

I suggested a "coach," thinking it would seem less threatening to him. He's fired two already because they just don't "get it."

Nothing gets through to him unless it is of sufficient volume and intensity. And that's just exhausting for those of us around him who need to interact closely with him all day long.

At 48, it's not so easy for me to find a new job that will give me all I have where I am now, so I've been reluctant to start the search. Plus I have a number of health problems I struggle with, making a job hunt even tougher. But I'm so tired of the constant conflict. I just don't know what to do.

I've tried checking out emotionally and just punching the clock, but the problems just get bigger faster when I do that. I feel ground down and worn out.

Am I just doomed?

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