How to Ramp Up Your Social Intelligence When You Have ADHD

Social Intelligence is the measure of how well you get along with others, right? After some research, I discovered it’s more than just that. It involves both self and social awareness, which can be challenging for folks with ADHD. Introspection and awareness of subtle social cues takes a level of mindfulness that people with ADHD must think of consciously because it doesn’t happen automatically.

  •  Think ‘win-win’ when dealing with others. Relationships depend on mutual give and take. Being aware of the other people’s needs and desires are equally important as sharing yours. Give yourself time to reflect on what those could be. 

Test Your Social I.Q.:

You both have only one week of vacation this summer. Fortunately, it’s the same week but you can’t agree on whose side of the family to go visit. Your in-laws live in Texas, and your family is in Florida. How do you create a win-win out of this situation?

  • Keeping friends is more important than getting your way. 

Think twice about how you frame requests. Try to make it easy to refuse.  “How would you feel about…” is much better than “Please, just do this for me!”  The direct approach can be effective but pushy.  In your relationships pushing leads to resentment, and your relationships over the long run are more valuable than almost any immediate need. Test your Social I.Q.: You need your best friend to drive you to the airport because you’ll be away for two weeks, and overnight parking is expensive. Besides, that’s what best friends are for, right? How have you asked in the past? Try using the “easy-out” approach and see what happens. If they kindly refuse, best to take a cab than create strain to the relationship.

  • Consider the big picture.

More important than being considerate in groups is to consider the ultimate goals of the group. Sometimes the excitement of being included or being given an opportunity to contribute can eventually be replaced with overwhelm when you have ADHD. In fact, sometimes not going to meetings and activities in the first place can seem like the better alternative than potentially getting yourself overcommitted and possibly disappointing others. However, when thinking about your place within the big picture, you can find ways to become involved in a meaningful and successful way.

Test your Social I.Q.:

When you are asked to join the welcome committee you are suddenly bursting with ideas and aren’t listening to what all is involved. You know your strength is generating creative ideas, but you’re weak with follow-thru. Pause a moment and think, what would be the greatest benefit for the group? A sprinkle of unique flare to already established activities could become your hallmark. Just have your creative energy rub off on everyone involved and watch how much credit you’ll get for being a wonderful team player. Developing social intelligence is not about becoming manipulative or lying to others about who you are. It is an important skill you can use to show your true intentions and authentic self. A high Social I.Q. uses integrity along with other character strengths such as kindness and patience, all in helping you interact most effectively.


Take a Social Intelligence Quiz developed for research by Harvard University and see how you score!

Reach Furthur

I’m changing the cultural conversation around
two ears at a time
Listen how on my podcast!
~ Jennie Friedman



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