Most people expect adults with ADHD to be able to hide the fact that they have a problem. Social gatherings and meetings can cause a lot of anxiety in someone who suffers from ADHD and this can even cause them to avoid social situations. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. There are coping strategies to make even the most important meeting go well.
Most ADHD adults have difficulty staying focused on conversations for any length of time, so it’s not hard to imagine how trying it is to understand an entire meeting or speech. Unfortunately, those moments when the mind wanders are often the most important ones and this can cause problems later on when the facts are needed.
A social function, be it a picnic or a company party, can be emotionally and mentally exhausting if you are struggling to pay attention and to avoid blurting out something inappropriate. What should be fun turns into something more like work and requires a lot of energy just to make it through a couple of hours. This is the reason that many ADHD adults avoid social gatherings and prefer to spend their downtime away from other people.
Fortunately, there are ways to stay more focused during these social outings, making them less stressful and easier to deal with.
Strategies for Social Situations
• Keep it simple. Whenever possible, keep the social situation as stress free as possible. Choose to go to a movie or show instead of hosting or attending a party, which can be very distracting.
• Take notes. While this is not something you’ll want to do in front of people, it can be handy to keep a notebook on hand to jot notes on people throughout the event or meeting. This can be invaluable when you need to contact someone again or talk to your boss about the meeting.
• Listen more than you talk. Even if your attention tends to wander, it’s a lot easier to be in a social situation where you don’t really need to say anything. Most people are more than thrilled to talk about themselves, so all you need to do is ask a question now and then and you’ll be rewarded with plenty of talking.
• Find a way to be interested. Think about how you can use the information gleaned in the meeting for future projects. Many ADHD adults find that when they are interested in something, they really can focus on information input quite well. All you need to do is find the method of promoting interest in yourself.
• Opt for enjoyable outings. Rather than force yourself to go to a dozen corporate Christmas parties over the holidays, why not look for something you enjoy more, like a concert? Attend only the social gatherings that you absolutely must and the rest should be ones that you enjoy and feel comfortable with.
• Take someone along. Having a spouse or good friend with you allows you to break away from time to time when you simply can’t stick to a conversation. Also, having someone who understands you can be a big help when you are feeling uncomfortable and lets you join someone who will understand if you are in need of a break.
ADHD in adults can cause some serious problems in social situations if you don’t have a plan. Know what you can do to stay focused and to avoid embarrassing situations before you go in. This, coupled with support from a loved one, can help make all the difference in how you approach these gatherings.