How to Navigate Social Gatherings.

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Some people with ADHD are very out going and social. They love parties and social gatherings. However many people with ADHD find social events challenging. While it might be possible to decline invitations and the maturity of time, sometimes there are events that are necessary to go to,for example weddings, holiday parties and some events for work.

Even though these social gatherings aren’t your favourite thing, there are ways to successfully navigate them.

Here are 6 suggestions.

1) Time Limit

Before going to the event, plan how long you will stay. 2 hours is often a good length of time, as it gives you enough time to speak to people and show the host that you care, but short enough that it feels manageable to you. Giving yourself a time limit is beneficial in 3 ways.  You are more likely to go to the event, you will enjoy it while you are there knowing exactly when you will be leaving, and because, you know your time is limited you will be motivated to socialize even though it is difficult for you.

2) Set a Goal

Having a personal goal to achieve while you are at the event gives you a focus and project  It can give you a feeling of taking charge, rather than passively clock watching. If it is a networking event your goal might be to introduce yourself to 5 new people. At a family gathering your goal might be to have a short conversation with each family member.

3) Don’t drink

If you are feeling shy or awkward it is easy to drink alcoholic drinks drinks faster than usual because it gives you an activity to do. You might use the alcohol to bolster your confidence and courage, which feels good at the time, but could lead to you doing or saying things you later regret.

Not drinking also gives you the freedom to the leave the event  and drive home when you are ready, rather than waiting for a ride from someone else.

4) Limit small talk

Small talk is very boring for most people with ADHD. Some people try to make the conversation more stimulating by saying provocative things or even starting an argument. This approach might make the event more interesting for you but it has a damaging long term  effect on your relationships. Another way to limit small talk is to find a mutually interesting topic. It could be anything, from cooking to beekeeping. When you have found a subject you can have an engaging conversation that you will both enjoy.

5) Communication skills

ADHD symptoms could mean you communicating skills are challenging for you. You might find you talk a lot and forget to listen, interrupt the speaker when something pops into your mind, look away from the speaker or space out and not know what the conversation was about. Even though these skills don’t come naturally to you, it is possible to develop them so social events will be easier for you in the future.

6) Self esteem

Many people with ADHD have low self esteem and this can affect your ability to feel comfortable in social settings. Maybe you feel shy or think don’t have anything interesting to say, or that people would rather be talking to someone else besides you. You might be highly critical of your actions and this makes it harder to enjoy social situations. Make a commitment to yourself to start increasing your self esteem, as it will help improve many aspects of your life.

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