New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

ADHD Adults

Key to being social.....Any suggestions?

Hello everyone. I need your suggestions on being social! I grew up being placed in social atmospheres, since my mother noticed early on that my ADD effected me being social! I was taught to be social but I feel as though I suck at! I have no interest in small talk and I’m pretty forward with people!

I want to move up in the museum field and I think what’s holding me back is me! How can I be more social and not shut down when I sense people fake ness when I’m talking to them? I’m big on noticing peoples body language and that’s a lot of the reasons I prefer to not speak to most people!

What are suggestions, should I use?
Best regards


It is common to hear that “Your ADHD can be an asset”.  Sometimes that advise may push the boundaries of credibility, but I suspect most of us _sense_ that there is truth to it as well.  Having ADHD puts those of us who have ADHD in a position to understand that not every behavior that we see from people is an indication of ‘badness’.  And even if they are “fakes” there is probably some emotional driver behind it.  They may have about as much control over this behavior as we do over ours.  So we might need to be aware of and resist our temptation to jump to conclusions about others.

Given your ability to read body language and the associated talents that go with that kind of skill.  You might want to use this opportunity to tactfully see if you can get a peek inside of their thought processes.  Obviously you can’t just dive in so you might start with some observations about the current event or function that you are attending.  Since you are both there that is something that you have in common. 

Also you might want to use this process to test your conclusions about what is driving the body language that you are seeing.  This might not happen to you but I have jumped to the wrong conclusion too quickly from time to time.  And even if you are right about their underlying personality, so what.  It is not like it is contagious.  Naturally you don’t want to surround yourself with self obsessed people, but it won’t damage you to interact with them a bit.  Even just for the insight it may provide.

Remember small talk is give and take you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do all of the talking or ask all of the questions.  But you may have to prime the pump so to speak.

If you want to make a challenge out of this.  Try to see if you can use your insight (and tact) to soften up some of that body language before you move on.

Attitude is everything (even if you have to’ fake’ it at first <g>).  It is probably better to leave a trail of people who would be happy to see you again than to leave them indifferent to your presence.  Even if they are not perfect people, it is still nice to bump in to a chance smile from some (almost) stranger from time to time.

Posted by BobRicketts on Dec 12, 2013 at 8:51pm

I like Bob’s approach. It is gentle and exploratory. A great book which provides a road map to this approach is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Dec 13, 2013 at 3:05am

Ugh Bob your killing me! Me and small talk isn’t normal! If anything, people’s body language turned me off from wanting to speak to them!

I have a hard time shacking off fakeness. I’ve been doing meet ups, to help with socializing but I find myself going back into my shell!

What’s weird is I can be charming and outgoing but I have a hard time turning it on, when I need or want it!

Bob if only you could do my socializing for me!
Thank you for your suggestions. I’ll catch up with you guys!

Posted by Jjingram on Dec 13, 2013 at 8:50am

I wonder Jjingram if not liking people’s body language has turned into a convenient excuse not to talk to them.  Your choice ends up being whether moving up is worth the difficulty of doing the small talk.  This choice will be made every time you have the chance to practice small talk.  Do you make the effort or not?  That’s entirely up to you.  Good luck.  I hope it’s worth the effort.  There are interesting people out there.

Posted by whizinc on Dec 13, 2013 at 9:09am

Been told over and over last 2 years that I’m bullied and fired from most jobs only because I’m “different”.  Never told diff in bad way but too nice and big heart and brain has to go in many diff directions to get to same point as others.  I’m opposite and talk too much to anyone I meet but bartender/server that’s a good thing but co-workers don’t agree.  Wanted to point out that with ADD we have serious issue not being able to read or misinterpret subtle clues others are trying to give us when interacting.  One of the hardest things have yet to even start to fig out how to overcome since been working on the plethora of other crap I have to manage just hoping some day I can have job more than 2 months at time and be independent.  Always tended to talk about life story and say too much and gotten much better bout that. I’ve felt same way when talking to others but realized most of it was just in my head and mentally was able to ignore thought as soon as it started. Then able to relax and most of the time vibe changed for the better. So crazy how good I am at knowing whats going on watching others talk but if talking to me guess I’m clueless.  Yeah that’s huge problem ugh.  Guess that’s why so honest and tell it like it is which is not well received by most.  Trying to fig others out becomes a game then in end never really know if you’re right:) Take lot anxiety out of your life if learn to ignore it when you start thinking it.

Gotta say its funny how social I am talking to strangers but rarely see or talk to the few friends I have. Lame

Posted by mmma on Dec 13, 2013 at 1:46pm

I’m rather shy and reserved around people i don’t know. this is because i have a speech problem and people can be rather cruel about it. i have had people raise their voices when talking to me, ask if i am slow, and even talk down to me. the worst was when i was out to dinner with a friend, and this waitress kept talking to my friend, as if i weren’t even there. little kids can be rude about it too, they’re like ” eeeeewwwwwwww, what’s wrong with her?” as if i couldn’t hear. My speech problem DOES NOT affect my intelligence. Luckily i have friends at karate who are very understanding. major shout out to my karate peeps

Posted by Lilapsophile on Dec 13, 2013 at 10:42pm

Most of the people at my job are indifferent of me! If I’m silent and not speak up when people do stuff I don’t like, I’m weak! If i do speak up when someone does something wrong I’m aggressive! So I’m damned if do and dammed if I don’t! I forget a lot and I have skin problem but I wear make up but people either want to speak down to me or act like I’m stupid or want to thumb their nose at me! Seeing that I have two degrees and worked three jobs all during full time college, I’m a hard worker and I’m not stupid, I just have a hard time pulling up answers, when I need them!

Maybe I don’t like people but that’s part of the reason why I worked in customer service, because I wanted to get better with people! I seem to draw up the negative in people!

I’m having a hard time getting out of my head! I haven’t figured out, how to stop,the negative thoughts! I’ve prayed, talked to therapist and now taking meds, yet nothing is working!

I’m 27and I feel as if I’m back in first grade when I had to repeat because I my parents realized I had ADHD!

I realize I can be a but much, which is why I go out of my way to be nice to everyone but I still run into issues! Just tired of not having friends and watching people who are rude move up!

I lose interest in people with small talk, and trust me, if I could turn off the body reading I would!

Thank you all very much!

Posted by Jjingram on Dec 14, 2013 at 4:08pm

ok I’m seriously at a work party and I’m down stairs in the office having a moment! I’m so not happy with myself! Ugh!!!!!

Posted by Jjingram on Dec 18, 2013 at 3:44am

Join the New ADDitude Forums

ADDConnect is shutting down on July 31.
To continue sharing and receiving support from the ADDitude community, visit our new discussion forums.

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions