How to Get Along With the Group: Advice for ADD Adults

Tips for thriving in work, social, and support groups when you have adult attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD).


Filed Under: ADHD Social Skills, ADHD Support Groups
Tips for ADHD adults to better get along with work, social and support groups. ADDitude Magazine

Enlist a friend to give you subtle cues.

Michelle Novotni, Ph.D.
   
 

ADHD Social Tips

Schedule an hour of quiet time before a meeting in a noisy environment to focus yourself. Take a brisk walk right before a mellow get-together to work off some of your excess energy.

If you take medication to lessen symptoms of distractibility and fidgeting at work, you may want to adjust the timing to cover your evening meetings, as well.

 
   

At business meetings, Sarah feels like she doesn't fit in. She struggles to keep track of the conversations, has difficulty blocking out unwanted sounds, participates rarely, and ends up feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what was said.

Sam, on the other hand, considers himself very social. He loves to talk to his group and always has a story to tell. Unfortunately, he often misses the cues that tell him not to dominate the discussion.

Whether you have inattentive attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD), like Sarah, or hyperactive ADHD, like Sam, group interaction can be a challenge. There are different rules and expectations for different types of groups, so it is important to understand what the requirements are and to prepare accordingly. But by sticking to some simple strategies, you can stay on track throughout your meetings and conduct yourself with grace in social settings.

Work Groups

People with ADHD thrive on brainstorming and collaboration in the workplace. But remember that the primary purpose of working as a group is to accomplish a task efficiently.

  • Stay within the time frame for the group meeting. Avoid side conversations or off-task comments. Try an ADD-friendly timer to help all of the members stay on track.
  • Hold meetings in a relatively quiet environment to limit distractions. A lunch meeting in a noisy restaurant will make it hard to concentrate.
  • Tape-record the meeting if you feel you'll have trouble remembering what was said. If you have difficulty staying on task, take notes as well to help keep you focused.
  • Balance your participation with the other members. Select an effective member of the group as a model and use that person's level of participation as a gauge to determine whether you're speaking too much or too little.

Support Groups

You'll get the best support from your group if you can find the middle ground between talking and listening.

  • Know the structure of your group and save chatter for the right time. Some groups schedule casual social periods along with group sharing, while others provide opportunities to mingle only before and after the official meeting.
  • Balance your personal disclosure. Observe silently for a meeting or two before jumping in. Sharing too much makes group members feel uncomfortable, whereas sharing too little makes you seem standoffish. Take your cues from others to find the right balance.
  • Be respectful and supportive. Aim for a three-to-one ratio - three comments in response to others for every personal comment you make.

Social Groups

Many of the support-group tips apply here as well.

  • Enlist a friend to give you subtle cues (hand movements, eye contact, or gentle foot taps) to regulate your degree of participation. Because there are fewer constraints on behavior in social settings, this will help you stay with a conversation or avoid chattering away.
  • Be mindful of time. Social groups, like more formal groups, are often planned, though they are more likely to stray from a time frame. Follow the lead of others and leave when the majority of participants leave.

Remember, if you have prepared yourself to meet the expectations of the group, you'll be more likely to enjoy yourself.


This article comes from the February/March 2005 issue of ADDitude.

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