Adult ADHD and Social Skills

Hi, I’m Angela, I have a husband with bipolar 2 disorder, my kids have ADHD, and I myself have struggled with depression—YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

This week’s mental health tips are about adult ADHD and social skills.

You’ve probably been struggling with social skills since you were a kid, and may have learned a thing or two along the way, but it’s still worth addressing. Sometimes it’s just the feeling that everyone else knows how to act or what to say in everyday situations and you’re on the outside looking in just trying to figure it out. Why does it seem so easy for everyone else?

Those early social skill lessons were the foundation for your life so there might need to be some re-learning that can make all the difference. There’s always hope for change!

Here are some quick tips to practice that will improve your conversations and social connections.

  1. Own up to your tendency to interrupt. The great thing about ADHD is that you are an idea factory. You are interesting and full of creativity. The downside is that there are 1,000 ideas popping around in your head, and you can get into the habit of saying them or acting on them, the moment they come to you. My friend’s son with ADHD was maybe 4 or 5 and he described it perfectly saying. “I thinked it, so I said it.” In conversation it can be helpful to own up to this and possibly ask for help from a friend to remind you with a hand on your arm when you are going overboard. Medications can also curb this inclination.
  2. Show you’re interested. It can be easy to disengage when people start to bore you or when you feel impatient. But something as simple as using active listening skills shows people you are paying attention and truly care about them. You can ask follow up questions. Show concern and use brief verbal affirmations like “I’m sorry.” I see.” “That must be hard.” And definitely withhold your judgement.
  3. Don’t be a close talker. We’ve all been in those uncomfortable situations where we want to run away because someone is invading our personal space. If you haven’t you might be the close talker. Notice if someone takes a step back when you’re in conversation. An arm’s length apart is generally etiquette.
  4. Use your inside voice. You might notice a theme—awareness is pretty important. When you have ADHD it can be difficult to notice social cues that people might give off when you are talking too loudly. If you are in a big group and people start leaving the group conversation that would be a cue. They also might simply step back.
  5. Speak the truth in love. My daughter Emily is known to be completely direct, especially with me first thing in the morning, “Mom, you have bad breath!” There are better ways to tell someone it’s time to brush their teeth. Speaking the truth in love is just caring enough to tell the truth in a way that is kind and doesn’t seek to harm. It fosters honesty and strong relationships.

Relationships can be hard whether you have ADHD or not. Let’s remember to seek God’s wisdom and grace when we are struggling. We need His help to change. Psalm 119: 76 says…


May your unfailing love be my comfort…Psalm 119:76a


What tips would you add to list? I’d love to hear from you today, comment below.

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