Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Aspie Roadmap to Workplace Victory

Kathy Ferrell has written an interesting article "Aspergians can be great employees". It gives us a pretty good model of how Aspies and NTs can work together to make working together good.

As Ms. Ferrell points out, Aspies may have interpersonal issues. But if we work to counteract them by doing things like read books on etiquette and interpersonal communication (maybe also join groups like Toastmasters) and practice what they've learned, we may behave better than many NTs. For examples, Aspies who have had to work at diplomacy generally know better than to discuss things like religion and politics in the workplace...an example many NTs can learn from.

Also, Aspies who don't like to socialize don't make the mistake many NTs do of forming office friendships which can dissolve and then split their offices.

Many, many NTs also experience serious problems in the workplace due to naivete or other lack of understanding of how human dynamics really operate at work. Aspies who read and apply the lessons learned from good career books like Lona O'Connor's Top Ten Dumb Career Mistakes...And How to Avoid Them will march head and shoulders above NTs who don't.

(I highly recommend this book for everyone: the chapters I've found most helpful include Alienating Your Boss, Having a Bad Attitude and Suffering from a Rotten Image. Ms. O'Connor's practical, nuts-and-bolts presentation provides specific guidance as to what can go wrong and why - and what you can do about it. Aspies may be especially able to make good use of that kind of detail.)

The key is that we have to work at behaving acceptably in the workplace. (We can prove our interpersonal skill by successfully persuading employers of our advantages.) Once we do, employers will find we have an advantage over NTs even in the social department. With our other strengths like attention to detail and ability to master complex areas like - but certainly not limited to - computer technology and math, we can work ourselves ahead of the pack.

What do you think?

10 comments:

Mama Mara said...

Have you seen the documentary, "Today's Man", about the 21-year-old Aspie venturing out into the work world for the first time? It showed many of the strengths you mentioned, but also all of the struggles facing someone who doesn't understand or care about office politics and social norms. I have to admit that I'm really worried that my son (now 15) will not be employable.

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello Mama Mara,

Yes, I had the privilege of seeing part of "Today's Man".

Your son is quite fortunate in that his condition was detected early, and he can have some good training to at least mitigate his interpersonal issues.

I was already over twice your son's age when I first heard of AS, much less knew just how it affected my ability to find and keep jobs or how I could improve. He's very much ahead of the game - especially with a great mother like you.

Cheers,

Jeff Deutsch

Mama Mara said...

You made my day.

Maddy said...

I'm keen on anything that has a list! Top ten or otherwise.
Best wishes

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello Maddy,

I assume you're referring to Lona O'Connor's book, is that right?

That's why I recommended that book: its format and style make it, IMHO, especially accessible to Aspies.

Cheers,

Jeff Deutsch

Mama Mara said...

Jeff, thought you'd be interested in something I just ran across in ASD blog (part of our Autism Bloggers Ring). The Job Accommodation Network (part of the Department of Labor) has issued guidelines for employers of people with Asperger's Syndrome. Check it out; I'd love to hear what you think.

Casdok said...

I think you make very good points!

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello Mama Mara,

If you could please give the address for the ASD blog, that would greatly facilitate my finding it.

Is the item you're referring to the same as the Accommodation and Compliance series document at the top of my web resource listing?

Casdok, yes Mama Mara makes excellent points. I've also seen your blog. You and your son are fighting the good fight. You both, like many of us, are seeing a side of humanity which many other people, who understandably consider themselves blessed, do not have the privilege of seeing.

I like to think it ennobles you, because it shows you what it's like on the business end of prejudice and narrow minds. It gentles your soul, as you resolve not to treat others that way.

Jeff Deutsch

Mama Mara said...

Yes, the document I found on onthespectrum.blogspot.com is the same one you've listed on your web resources. Ooops.

Jeff Deutsch said...

Btw, that documentary "Today's Man" to which Mama Mara refers is on again Saturday night (August 23) at 8pm on WHUT (Howard University Television), for those of you in the Washington area.

Jeff Deutsch