When we think of the inherent challenges associated with ADD or ADHD, we often think of them being most prevalent at work or school. It’s easy to connect difficulties with concentration and task initiation to difficulties with work-related and goal-oriented projects.
However, ADD and ADHD can present challenges in social situations as well. Even though the effect of ADD/ADHD on adult social skills is much less discussed, it is still deserving of time and attention. With that in mind, here are some helpful strategies for how to manage ADD/ADHD in social situations.
Make Eye Contact
People with ADD can find it as difficult to focus on a social conversation as it is to focus on a work project. Making eye contact not only shows your friend that you are listening, it also helps keep you focused on what’s being said. Keeping your eyes on the speaker will also help you pick up on nonverbal cues in the conversation.
Wait For Gaps In Conversation
It’s common for people with ADD/ADHD to be prone to interrupting others. Many people also experience the problem of speaking before they think due to their impulsivity. Practice waiting for gaps in conversation before adding to the discussion. Waiting for genuine pauses or silences will stop you from interrupting and speaking impulsively. It may take some practice to get used to recognizing those conversation gaps, but you can do it!
Repeat The Essentials
Distractibility can negatively impact the listening skills of people with ADD. In order to improve your listening and to make sure you’ve retained the necessary information, repeat the essentials of a conversation back to your friends. For example, when meeting someone new, repeat their name back to them after they’ve introduced themselves. This repetition will help cement the new information into your brain.
Check Your Body Language
ADD and ADHD make it difficult to understand things like body language and nonverbal communication. In fact, many people with ADD aren’t even aware of the subconscious messages they are sending with their own bodies. In a social situation, check that you’ve adopted an open and friendly posture. Uncross your arms, keep your body relaxed, and turn toward the person or group you’re engaging with. Also try to be aware of other people’s personal space and, if in doubt, take half a step back.
Write It Down
Many people with ADD/ADHD struggle to remember plans and stick to their social commitments. Get in the habit of writing down your social schedule in a planner or diary. Also start writing down any other prep tasks you have to do before the event itself. Attending a dinner party? Don’t forget to write down the date, but make sure you also write yourself a reminder to pick up a bottle of wine for the host.
Living with adult ADD or ADHD may sometimes require a little more attention in social situations. But, if you practice these skills, they’ll soon become second nature and you’ll find yourself sailing through your social schedule with ease.
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