How-to Tips for Everyday Social Skills with Adult ADD
Social situations may be very difficult for some adults with ADD. They don't seem to have the type of antenna which picks up the nuances and undertones of social interactions. They often are not aware of how other people are feeling or how they appear to others.
- Stop, look, listen, repeat.
Listening is difficult for many people but especially adults with ADD (or ADHD).
- Stop what you are doing. If you are a hyperactive motor mouth, you are talking. If you are inattentive, you are probably in a reverie about yesterday's mishap or tomorrow's party.
- Look make eye contact with your interlocutor to show him/her that you are listening. Eye contact helps to keep you focused on what is being said.
- Listen to what is said.
- Repeat back the essentials of what was said to verify your understanding.
Many years ago two air planes collided, one was taking off as the other landed. The plane taking off had received a command from the control tower :"You are cleared for take off". The pilot couldn't know that the transmission system had blinked like an ADD brain by losing the little word "NOT". But the pilot failed to follow established protocol to repeat back the command received.
- Bodies talk. Learn to understand them.
Body language conveys more than 65% of your message. Does your body say what you mean? Do you understand what other bodies are telling you?
- Eye contact. The eyes point to where your attention is.
- Body posture relaxed turned toward your interlocutor.
- The tone of your voice says more than your words.
Voice tone conveys your emotions and counts for about 30% of the message. Listen to yourself. Do you sound angry, whining, or bored? Listen carefully to others. People with ADHD often misinterpret the emotions of others. If in doubt ask quietly "Are you angry with me?"
- Be interested in others.
People with ADD may be so engrossed in their own world that other people seem like blurs. Stop, take the time to say "Good Morning. How are you?" and listen to the response. Find out if they have children, what their favorite activity is. This does not mean that you need to become bosom pals; this is just normal social discourse which helps to make life a bit more comfortable for everyone.
- Address people by name.
"Hi Karen". "How y'a doin, Tom?" You don't remember names? Here's an exercise to help you remember people. Cut pictures of people out of a magazine. Study each face for at least five minutes. Learn something about the person: something unique or unusual.
- Count to ten before you explode.
Many people with ADD have problems with anger. They tend to see the world through their own unique glasses; when others don't agree with them, they get frustrated and blow up. Do a post mortem on one of these occasions and identify the triggers which led to the melt down. Were you hungry? Tired? Have a friend or spouse make a video of you. When you recognize the feeling of an impending disaster, take a walk.
You will find more helpful tips and ideas in my free newletter Zebra Stripes, subscribe now.