So I've formed a theory - ok, more like an observation - and just bounced it off a friend; woman who counsels parents of special needs kids and thusly is well versed in issues such as Autism. The observation, with some polishing from my friend goes something like this:

The typical workplace for me, socially, starts out with a boss and perhaps co-worker or three who are impressed with my job skills, my reliability, my loyalty to the business and getting the task at hand done. A dream employee for any workplace, right? Yet before long, one or three people develop a burning, seething hatred/jealousy/obsession with making my life miserable. It's like a contagious virus that the boss quickly catches. And poof, no more job. Why? How?

That empathic, unconsciously-sizing-each-other-up communication that is the core of what we are missing, both giving off those 'vibes' and reading them from others, doesn't tend to trip up everyone. But some are astoundingly, obsessively tripped up by this. 

Neitzsche refers to it with his masters and slaves models. Most don't think of it in terms quite that harsh, but in any case, two people meet and on that ID, caveman level, size each other up and categorize each other socially, emotionally. Unless of course one of those persons is Autistic. The Autistic neither does the sizing up, at least not nearly on the level that the Neurotypical does, nor does s/he put out the 'correct vibes' as it were to be easily sized up by the other party. A small percentage of people are wildly thrown off by this.

As my friend puts it, we disrupt that person's worldview. That person being someone who desperately needs to be on top of everyone around them, in control at least to the extent of knowing where everyone else fits in the social order. Everyone else around them fits neatly in their little emotional-social boxes, in their little categories, all lined up in a row and easy to read, predict, influence, manipulate, control. Everyone except us. And that triggers fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of someone who doesn't fit in or stay in their little box. 

Before long, it's like some really bad movie plot where that person is obsessed with us, and largely with making our lives hell. For these people also tend to be the Alpha personalities of the office, and in good enough with the boss that whomever they say is just too weird to be allowed to stay on the team, doesn't tend to stay on the team.

Like my friend says, we can think of these coworkers as being the disabled ones. Yeah, great, but doesn't help me get my job back or keep the next one.

Anyone else here have this issue? How bad? I've had a couple of bosses who would not be bullied by the bullies and evaluated me on my job skill, not the fact that I happen to weird out Andy Alpha. I even had one such Alpha coworker demand the boss fire me (for no stated reason) or she'd quit. She quit. 

But those good, non-puppet-mastered bosses are sadly few and far between. At least in my experience. It's been a lifetime of frustration for me: Being constantly pushed out of jobs I like, jobs I'm good at, because one or three people can't play nice with me in the sandbox. I bend over backwards to play nice with them but to no avail. Am I the only one?


Tags: Asperger, Autism, boss, coworker, job, office, politics, workplace

Views: 160

Replies to This Discussion

Well, your three point list is pretty much a bullet point of my own career path. Though somehow I do ok in the interviews.

On point 3 though I tend to stubbornly cling to the job far longer than is healthy for me and usually end up fired before I quit. I think it's a combination of sense of justice (why should I be the one to quit when it's the other person's insecurity that is the problem, not me), and just plain not wanting to go through the torture of looking for a new job.

Hence I found that seasonal/contract/short-term jobs are where I seem to thrive. I'm there long enough for the being-valued-for-my-job-skill bit, but not quite long enough for the Apocalypse. At least not always.

The suck of seasonal work is the constant state of searching for the next job. But it puts my foot in several doors so to speak, plus I put my house on wheels (RV), so my job-search options are greatly expanded.
This is interesting - though I have neither asperger's nor autism (by the way I joined this group because our son is autistic) I still behave "outside the box" slightly. This has led to bosses totally misreading me or my intentions. Thankfully, it hasn't led to any form of constructive dismissal, or such egotistical reactions etc. as you have had, Jo, but it has led to some unpleasant confrontations.

But why this should happen is beyond me, unless it is as you say, fear of the unknown. Most people live their bland lives among those who think and behave in similar ways, and they get stuck in a mental rut. They feel comfortable and wanted, respected and so on. Then they suddenly have to work with a person who's life runs along different tracks, and they can't cope.

This is a sad comment on todays civilisation and, to a degree, religion.
First off Skraeling, welcome to the group - glad you joined!

As I'm only recently, unofficially diagnosed (about 3 years ago), I'm still learning quite a bit myself and find it incredibly useful to bounce ideas and observations off other people.

Office politics are toxic to everyone and anyone is a potential victim. Last job I lost, not really 'fired,' but a seasonal job for which I wasn't hired back, another woman who is very not Autistic or anything was also 'not asked back.' She was hands down the best, most accurate, most reliable worker they had and had been there something like 5 seasons. So at least I really know they were re-hiring based on the personal favorites personal issues and not on work ethic.

It just really sucks that one or three people's personal insecurities spell massive hardship for someone else. It's cruel, unjust, inhumane. And yes, one of the villains of that story was very Xian. Where in their bible does it let them sleep at night knowing they severely shit on someone else's life just because they can't see fit to get along with that person in the workplace? Sure there are people at work I can't stand the sight, sound or smell of. But I have little problem being civil and professional with those people.

/rant.
I can definitely relate to this.

I went through college unable to relate to the other students but presuming that having a super-high GPA would secure me a solid career-path. But found out in the job interviews that the employers were far more interested in my people-skills than in the other job-related skills I had.

(Damn! If only life was a series of studying for and taking tests, I'd be the most successful SOB around!)

After being fired from my first two jobs and finding that just showing up for work to try to navigate the social waters of the office was just way too stressful, I became a consultant and took on jobs where I could just focus on the task with a minimum of personal politics. That's been most of my career.

I've always seemed to have a "talent" of creating enemies around me without knowing why. Friends? Phhhttt!! I'm just happy if people are willing to tolerate me in their space. Lonely has been my standard state since as far back as I can remember, but it's better than getting beat up.

I knew there was something "wrong" / different about me from high school, but I couldn't find anything to tell me what it was. I only learned about Asperger's in the past 3 years. It has explained so much of what my life has been like.

The upside is that being an atheist is easy. Knowing that I don't fit in with any group removes the pressure of conformity, life would be no different whether I lied about believing in god or not. So why not be true to myself and focus on living the kind of life where I can hold my head high.

I'm glad this group is here.
I only learned about Asperger's in the past 3 years. It has explained so much of what my life has been like.

Same here. Ever the skeptic, when I stumbled onto the Asperger's self-diagnosis, I spent the rest of the weekend trying to disprove it. "No way, I'm making excuses for myself, this can't be me." But for every element that wasn't 'me,' a dozen other elements are.

As for working life, glad you found a groove into which you fit. Mine turned out to be seasonal/contract/short-term gigs. The idea is that I'm there just enough for them to be impressed with my job skill, but not long enough for the Alpha Apes to get their knives all the way into my back.

Plus another element I'm taking advantage of right now as I apply for the next seasonal Park Service gig. I don't have to say or explain that I was 'fired' from last season's position. I wasn't asked back for this Summer, but so long as I get a gig elsewhere (and laws of probability are on my side there), my work record goes unbroken. I simply moved on to a different position.

Stuart, thanks for posting this.  It means a lot to hear this from a past AAI president.  Thank you.

I talked to a psychologist following a number of conflicts on the workfloor; she suspected Asperger’s, and it was my allegedly erratic behaviour that eventually prompted my boss to contact the Autism Research Centre, so that's a good thing, I suppose.
I am here to work, not to engage in some kind of social bollocks. And in all modesty, I think I work quite well. We are a translation agency; I speak six languages and hold a degree in linguistics, i.e., I am a well-qualified employee. The rest is irrelevant nonsense. Chitchat and smalltalk mean nothing to me.
(This means nothing to meeee, this means nothing to meeee — oooohhhh Viennaaaaaa...)
I talked to a psychologist following a number of conflicts on the workfloor; she suspected Asperger’s, and it was my allegedly erratic behaviour that eventually prompted my boss to contact the Autism Research Centre, so that's a good thing, I suppose.

I've never known a boss to come anywhere close to giving enough of a shite to take steps like that. The only steps they've ever taken is to get rid of me, despite whatever qualifications I may have.

>_/body>
Anyone else here have this issue?

Yes, I have.

In my current job, I have come across a few bullies. One of them in particular was a guy who couldn't understand me and couldn't accept that different people didn't share his outlook on life. My behaviour made him afraid because he couldn't understand or accept it. He reacted by bullying me. He eventually left after I reported him twice, but this took some time, and he didn't go quietly. The management were very indecisive about the issue. This guy left two years ago, but I'm still having flashbacks about him every day for most of the day.

My job history has been erratic. I have lost some jobs. Sometimes it was because I didn't fit with peoples' expectations of what a human being should be like, but sometimes it was genuinely because I couldn't do the job and didn't realize that at the time. I have been relatively lucky, as I have held my current job for the past ten years, although I have experienced a lot of bullying there. I have been able to hold onto my job partly because the management values the quality of my work, and partly because they are weak and don't care too much who works there - which explains all the incompetent bullies staying in the job.

I have also had an experience with a landlady I was living with, who eventually fired me because I wasn't what she thought a human being should be. Like the guy at work, her problem was that she was stupid and bigoted, so she could neither understand nor accept me.

Regarding my work situation, I am currently studying geology with a view to getting a job in the field. So far, I have found that that I mostly enjoy being around the students and geologists I have met, with one exception. I am hoping that, when I eventually get a job in the field, there will be a good atmosphere in the office!
You are not the only one. I was able to keep a job for twenty seven years but that was because

most of the time I was by myself.

I was socioally ostracized and never given the chance to move up.

I worked for a public school district and the pay was low but steady,everything was fine as long as i

didn't draw attention to myself.


I took up Karate at one point,did that for several years,(still do) which became a problem

for my employers when it brought me some notiriety,(people actually began to admire me)

and that was unacceptible,

and that job was suddenly gone.

I did have enough time in to get a pension check so I took that and went on my merry way.

screw'em.
I did have enough time in to get a pension check so I took that and went on my merry way.

screw'em.


Lucky you!
No kidding! the experience led to a mental breakdown among other things too numerous to mention,at least i didn't leave emtyhanded.

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