Social Success and Making Friends for ADHD Adults: Small Talk Help

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Sarah, an adult with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), like many clients I work with, finds socializing anything but fun.

“It’s work,” she said. “And hard work at that! Sarah dreads many parties, family dinners and business meetings during the summer and on vacation.

“I never know what to say, especially with people I don’t know very well,” she adds. “Anyway, I get in trouble when I go to a party.”

Sarah jumps from topic to topic in a conversation and doesn’t effectively listen to the person she’s talking to. I worked with her to develop strategies that would put her at ease the next time she went out.

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Play three questions

Being a good listener is essential for social success. The next time you strike up a conversation at a party, ask the person three questions about what they said before changing the subject.

For example, if your conversation partner has just returned from a vacation in the Greek Islands, you might ask them, “What was the highlight of your trip? “” Which island was your favorite? “” And “Would you like to go back one day? This approach makes others feel like you are really listening to them.

Choose hot topics

To be socially successful, your conversation needs to be relevant. Some people with ADHD choose topics that others consider random.

Before heading to a social function, take a look at a news website for a quick update on current events. The first two paragraphs of any story will give you the facts you need. You can also catch the news over the radio while driving to the meeting. If you can talk about three topics, you will have a lot to say.

Search for Whatzits

What are Whatzits? The items a person is wearing or carrying that make you want to approach them and ask, “What is this? It could be an interesting piece of jewelry or a quote on a name tag; it could be an unusual tie, watch or t-shirt with something smart on the front or back. Be on the lookout for Whatzits – and get others to approach you by wearing a Whatzit yourself.

Play Copy Chat

According to How to get people to like you in 90 seconds or less, by Nicholas Boothman (Workman), mirroring the person you’re speaking with creates a bond. People tend to like people who are like them, so copying someone’s body language can help forge a bond. If they lean forward, you lean forward. If they move to the side, you move to the same side. Do this at the start of a conversation or when you feel like you’re losing your connection. Be subtle and selective when mirroring, or this approach will backfire.

[Why Can’t We Be Friends?]

Count your strengths

Get in a positive frame of mind before you go to a party by citing three reasons someone will love being with you. Ok I know. Listing three strengths is more difficult than listing three pages of weaknesses, but you know you have many qualities. Just take the time to watch.

For example, you can remind yourself that you are a nice person, that you really like helping people, and that you have a great sense of humor. If you don’t see your own strengths, it is difficult for others to see them.


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