Workplace Confusion

Being autistic in the workplace can feel confusing on good days and downright overwhelming on harder days. Since autistic people often learn very slowly from trial and error, we can make social and professional mistakes at work multiple times before making the adequate changes. Even more, we often cannot connect one social rule to another, which can lead to workplace drama. For example, if I tell someone, “I don’t like that idea,” and the person is offended, I might think the issue was that I told that specific person that I don’t like their idea; it might not occur to me that I just simply shouldn’t say, “I don’t like that idea,” so directly to anyone!


All that being said, here’s a workplace social rule that I’ve learned recently. If a colleague makes an out-of-the-blue suggestion about my behavior, it’s probably not really a suggestion but a request. So, when a coworker says something along the lines of: “Did you know that you could leave your lunch pail on this shelf instead of on the counter?”, the coworker is probably actually asking you in an indirect way, “Please put your lunch pail on the shelf. It annoys me that you always leave it on the counter.” While I wish we all just communicated directly, many neurotypical people communicate conflicts in this indirect way. But of course, it’s up to you whether or not you want to do what your coworker requested!

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