Welcome to the start of our Story Time Series! We will be posting these twice a month sharing situations that happen in our lives and tips on navigating difficult or awkward situations. We want to provide updated information, so what we share will be fresh news!
Check out our other Story Times HERE!
Bias at work
Personal interactions with people can be complicated and leave a bad taste in your month. We had two situations come up that made us stop, think, and consider the difference between impartiality and bias in the workplace. Implicit bias influences everything we do in our daily life. This can seep into the workplace and sometimes it may even be explicit bias based on legitimate factors. However, that does not mean you can take the power you're given and use your bias to make a choice.
We had an interaction with someone outside of the workplace. This person had a negative view on disability and they even expressed some hurtful opinions on the existence of disability. Truly not a person we would interact with on a regular basis. However, this person applied at our job. Internal conflict told us, we don’t want to work with this person. But is it fair to interfere simply for knowing a person’s views on a topic?
Impartiality is required to have a successful business. The role that this person applied for did not involve disability. Just because this person was hurtful to us, doesn’t mean they are bad or an unskilled worker. In that moment, we decided that impartiality to us means being fair.
The workplace is about a cohesive team and personal bias or opinions have no place at work. This is one of the reasons that we believe a boundary between personal and professional is vital. Everyone crosses that boundary and finds friends, but that is not necessarily a good thing. We have learned that making friendships at work is a mistake 95% of the time.
Keeping it Professional
We are autistic. This means we sometimes do not understand the boundaries that need to be in place at work. It can be nice to find someone to have lunch with or work together on a project, but social interactions are complicated for us. People can be quick to change their opinion of your work based on social status.
For example, we had a friend at a workplace some years back. We got along great and would hang out during lunch, take walks, and just generally support each other at work. At one point there was a disagreement. To us, it was not significant. However, to them, it was a major issue. It led to them sabotaging us at work. Not accepting projects because we were on them, or even calling us out in a meeting saying we made a mistake, even though we hadn’t.
To this day, we do not understand why the person was offended. Mainly because there was no communication of the why.
The Why Matters
“Don’t you get it? Think about it longer until you understand.I am not explaining something you should know.”
Those are comments that we hear during any kind of workplace conflict. The hidden meanings or slight in between the lines nuances that we miss because we are autistic.
When we ask a coworker what they mean or why they are upset, it is because we are trying to understand. To digest the information that they have given us and clearly know the issue, we need why.
This is a communication barrier that happens alot for us in school and work. The stares of you should know this or but you’re so smart, why are you acting stupid are evident on faces and in their words.
In reality, our cognitive delay and our autism prevent us from understanding unless you explain.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in the workplace would just explain?
No one is a mind reader and sometimes words are not clear to the other person. Patience when interacting with anyone is important, but being on the spectrum adds another layer of difficulty.
Autism doesn’t mean that we have to learn how to match you, it is a collaborative communication effort where everyone comes together to adapt.