Have you ever had a conversation with a friend, coworker, or acquaintance that starts out well, but takes a turn for the worse? Your conversation mate suddenly signals that she has to take a call in the middle of an important point you're making or responds less and less to what you think are clever remarks.
Good social skills require attention. We need to notice the cues that tell us what someone is thinking or feeling. This social dexterity allows us to hold back a comment, so that we can follow the conversation's progression. Without these skills, it's easy to step on toes and lose friends.
Steph, who is diagnosed with ADHD, learned this the hard way when she met her boyfriend's parents. Wanting to make a good impression, she eagerly participated in the conversation, only to find his parents getting quieter through dinner. In the car going home, her boyfriend pointed out that she cut his parents off in order to make her own points. She was shocked that her enthusiasm had offended them.
People with ADHD know what they should do. They sometimes have trouble doing it. Steph knows why her boyfriend's parents didn't like being interrupted, but because she didn't realize she was doing it, she couldn't adjust her behavior. Her boyfriend's parents were not enamored of her.
Steph talked to her boyfriend about the pressure she felt to make a good impression, and how she hadn't realized that she was interrupting. She fixed the situation by sending them a thank-you card for the dinner and writing a note explaining that her excitement to meet them had gotten the best of her. She ended on a positive note, telling them that she looked forward to getting together again.
As she thought about it, she realized that she interrupts others when she is excited or nervous. She talked to her boyfriend about it, and they agreed that he would tap her under the table if he noticed too much enthusiasm. This gave them both more confidence that future outings would go better.
This article appears in the Summer issue of ADDitude.
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