SW in NJ asks:

I’m 42, single, no children, and live alone. Because I have difficulty with conversations most of my life, I am shunned by family members and coworkers. My opinions don’t seem to count, though many times people say, “I should have listened to you.” What do I do next?

Michele Novotni answers:

Sometimes it is not what we say, but the way we say it that matters most. Personally I would prefer a world where being right was all that mattered, but that isn’t the world we live in. From your email, it seems like you need to refine the art of social interaction. It also sounds like you don’t know what social errors you are making, so you don’t know how to improve.

I recommend that you consider using the Social Skill Checklist in the back of my book What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don’t?. Fill out the checklist yourself and also ask others you trust to do the same to help identify your social strengths and areas that need improvement. The checklist should provide a safe manner of obtaining feedback that others might not usually give.

Another strategy is to ask others directly what you could do to improve your conversations and social interactions. Common AD/HD social errors can include

  • interrupting,
  • talking too much,
  • talking too fast,
  • going off track,
  • not paying attention,
  • not maintaining balance in relationships,
  • impulsively blurting out words that would be much better left unsaid,
  • not being reliable,
  • inappropriate body language, etc.
Sometimes it is not what we say, but the way we say it that matters most.

Once you have identified the social errors you are making, you will be able to work on learning different methods of interacting that facilitate connection rather than alienation.

You may find help learning the new skills through reading the book, through coaching sessions, or with a therapist trained in social skill acquisition for those with AD/HD. Fortunately, there are specific skills that you can learn to improve the social connections in your life!