Sam Warner is a Communication Specialist and works with leaders across multiple industries to help Neurodivergent people at work to achieve recognition, respect and understanding. Working predominantly with the IT industry, Sam works with the whole team to enable them to become self-aware, better communicators and gel as a cohesive team. The benefits include increased profit and productivity, decreased absenteeism and an empowered high-performing team.
Sam is a TEDx Speaker, the licensee and director of TEDxTelford and coaches TEDx Speakers, speakers for formal events and small businesses wishing to refine their messaging. Sam undertakes individual coaching for Neurodivergent adults and their friends, family and co-workers. She also helps trainers to design for neurodivergent audience members and trains organisations to improve their team culture and HR processes to be more inclusive. You can connect with her here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samwarner/
Sam's Website is here: Get Your Message Across
Hello, and welcome to the autism in real life podcast. In each episode, you'll get practical strategies by taking your journey into the joys and challenges of life with autism. I'm your host, Ilia Walsh, and I'm an educator and the parent of two young adults, one of which is on the autism spectrum. Join me as I share my experience and the experiences of others. So that we may see the unique gifts and talents of individuals on the autism spectrum, fully recognized.
Hi, everyone, this is Ilia with autism in real life, and today, I'm very happy to have Sam Warner on and we are going to be talking about, you know, attracting and nurturing and maintaining neurodivergent talent, employees. And I think this is super fun. And I know she and I have been kind of chatting on LinkedIn. And we met a couple times. And here we are finally podcasting. And I just love what you have to say. And so I'm excited to have you here. So if you could just tell people a little bit about yourself and what you do. I mean, it's just we're gonna have fun. I think today, so.
Hello. Yes, thank you so much for having me on a real treat. I love the way that you ask the question. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Which little bit? Would you like to know?
Maybe it's not a little bit, maybe it's more than a little bit.
It's the classic, isn't it? When you're in an interview situation, especially people will say So tell me more about yourself. And you're like, I was born in 1973. And Plymouth, sorry. Exactly. And I don't mean to be obtuse, but really, where do you want me to start? And also really interested in my work stuff? Or do you want to notice things I do outside of work? Education? Are you trying to test me because you can come lying on my CV? Or you haven't bothered to read my CV? So you want me to give you the Cliff Notes? I mean, come on.
Let's be really clear about what you're looking for. Now. I love this. And I think this is why right, this is why we're chatting today. Because I think we can all fall into these. These seemingly right easy, like easy traps, but and really harmless. We feel like it's harmless when we ask these types of questions, but these can create a lot of anxiety. So I'd really love to know. Right, right, right now,
the right answer, you know, so So what I think is the right answer in this context, would be that I got 25 years experience in a corporate job of varying different job titles, got a bit fed up with that square peg round hole, left in 2015, to run my business full time already started in 2008, as a side hustle. And, as they call it, and found it to be far more interesting than my day job. While more rewarding, not financially, but you know, Soul rewarding. And, you know, when people say I can't find my purpose, I found it. And I realized that all those years that I'd spent in corporate weren't really wasted. They actually taught me a language, the language of the neurotypicals, we'll call it and what that all that did was it because I am autistic, and I have ADHD, I think a certain way, and I want to say things in a certain way. On the whole, people who are not autistic and have ADHD, don't really like the way that I speak unfiltered. It's a little bit too direct, a little bit task focused, no fluff. And I'm, I'm all about efficiency. Apparently, that's not particularly loved in an in a work environment. It's a big question mark in my head now. Pardon? Why? Surely that's exactly what you want in a work environment. So anyway, but what I soon discovered is they're speaking a completely different language, and they think they're being really clear. And I'm speaking this different language in my head, my language, but I have to It's like speaking Japanese, I have to translate everything into Japanese to talk to them. It's like living in a foreign country all the time, but we are actually speaking English. So it's doubly confusing because I think I know what you mean. But you know, you've said it in a wooly way. So it could mean like five things So now I have to come back to you and go, so do you mean this, this, this, this or this? And they look at you going? No. And it was the sickest thing you haven't thought of a practice wants to know that. Right? And then they're like, well, she's not very bright, Then is she? She can't pick things up very easily. Could it be you?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, definitely, definitely.
So I went on to work with individuals to help them to self advocate at work. It was hard for them to find that, that foreign language that they needed to find to communicate with their colleagues at work, either get a job or keep a job. And and that has gone on another step into helping employers come from the other direction, and help them to create a list of reasonable adjustments, because you'll get someone who will come up and say, Hi, I'm applying for your job. Can you tell me what reasonable adjustments you have for autistic employees? Crickets, okay, so, or they come back with you just tell us what you need. Okay, so I don't know what I'm allowed to ask for. Because if I start reeling off all the things that I think I need, you're gonna think I'm such a diva and a burden and a pain and it's gonna cost you a fortune, then you're not going to want to employ me, because I'm now a painful person to have in your organization. And everyone else is gonna resent me because I'm gonna do all these things to help me at work. And I have to explain to the employer, but if you create a list of reasonable adjustments, 99% of which cost you zero. Everybody can avail themselves of the reasonable adjustments. So if you have introverts in the office, who aren't necessarily neurodivergent, they just can't work really productively in a noisy environment. And you've decided open plans the way to go because some idiot decided open plan was the way to go some insecure little decided, oh, we can't trust anybody to be their little cubicles, we'll have to put you all in one big office, like a load of naughty school children so we can keep an eye on you. Great, thanks for the respect. And then tell you how often you need to use headphones. Because Doris next to you, yeah, Brian all day long to somebody else on the phone about her children. And Fred keeps talking about his golf, swing or whatever. And you're like, do I need to say what else work here? Because you guys obviously working? nothing all day long. Trying to work. So I help to employers to understand the nonsense that is you can't wear headphones in the office, because you know, no one can talk to you. And I'm like, What's the point?
Leave me alone. So I can get work done.
I don't need to talk about golf, or babies not interested. Now, if you were talking about Doctor Who headphones off it's pretty unlikely. So it's a really long winded way of telling you what I do.
Ya know, and it's and it's, I think it's awesome, because you approach it in a very, in a really fun way. And no, no, really, like non threatening or making this really, it doesn't have to be difficult. I mean, just in your saying, like, you know, most, you know, adjustments, or we might say it's like accommodations that we would put in place, are, are can be free, or very simple or low tech, or, you know, easily found kind of things. And I think some of it for me, it's always like about raising employment. I mean, raising, like awareness to employers, you know, what I mean? It's like, we always want to raise employment, that's like a good thing. But like, you know, by letting you know, letting employers learn more and be more aware of what what they can do, because I wonder if sometimes it's just they don't, they just don't know. And everyone just gets really afraid. I mean, I used to work in human resources. So I remember when people would ask for things. It was like, Can we do that? What is that going to? Do? You know, how do we figure that out? It was like always this big drama. And it's like, I think they're just asking for like, Can they come in a little bit later and leave a little later, this really isn't a big deal.
Let's tell everyone, that that's what that person's doing. And we're all okay with it. And by the way, does anyone else need to come in a little bit earlier or a little bit later?
I never understood the difficulty with with simple requests like that. I really didn't. I think it was mostly fear based. I was a huge advocate. Get for at the time, this will date me, but telecommuting, that's what it was called in, you know, in like the mid 90s. And now it's like I live two hours from where I worked. I lived on Long Island, and I worked in Manhattan. And it was a two hour commute. And I was totally prepared to do it. I did it for a while. And I was like, you know, can I have one day that I work from home? I mean, I use my computer. It's a telephone, like, I'm just gonna sit at my cube, and it'll save me four hours of travel can't Can we just do it one day, and it was a huge issue. And then all of a sudden, it was like this big initiative to make it more X make things more accessible and work life balance and all that stuff. And well, now who knew right here we are, like 20 something years later? And we're like, well, whatever, it just could totally get online from anywhere in the world. Okay.
Oh, absolutely. At the corporates I worked out, they would have designated meeting rooms with incredibly expensive high tech conference equipment that sat there gathering dust in the corner, as no one could figure out how to make it work with their laptop because everyone had a slightly different laptop, and someone had taken a cable out or something. So then you're sitting there looking at all the cables going, I can't even turn the plasma screen on, you know. And they, some people would just use it as a normal meeting room. But this really like 6000 pounds worth of equipment sitting in the corner. And they soon a jump on a train from Telford to London, costing like 200 pounds for a ticket for a one hour meeting in London.
how inefficient? Is that? Right? Like, how inefficient? Is
it really expensive? I mean, you don't so people go on the drain, that's 1000 pounds. It's more than the equipment in the room. absolutely bonkers. And when people used to say, I'm going to work from home, or can I work from home? It was always in quotes. Because the thought was if you're working from home, in quotes, then you actually we didn't have Netflix back then. But we were you know, going shopping or going on the jolly with our family for the day. If you weren't contactable on your mobile, you're definitely on a jolly. Most people were just waiting for the boiler man, you know. So excited. And they do like three more hours work than they would have done in the office. They're super productive. But there's always one person that spoils it for everyone who did take they're working from home literally and as in quotes. Jolly couldn't be reached. And then instead of just dealing with that one individual, and this happened so many times with disciplinary sort of things. Blanket everybody, no one can do work from home now because we couldn't contact that one person.
Hmm. Right, right. Meanwhile, in the office, people would be chatting and hanging out and talking about like, their weekend or whatever. And maybe they lose a couple hours worth of time there. But somehow that's more socially expressed. Yeah, socially. So I totally that I feel like that was my very young experience in corporate and I really wasn't understanding why, like, like you said before, like, why I want to actually get work done. And then if I don't add, I still have to check like my emails and things even considering where I work. Like, I have to check my emails. I'm like, oh, shoot, I didn't ask about how their, how their weekend is or how their holidays were like, I didn't ask Oh, man, let me add let me add another like, you know, line in there for that. And it's not that I don't care it's not that I'm not interested. I would rather talk about that when I'm when I actually see them whether it's online or in person, but I have to put that in an email to
100% with you there. Yeah, I would have a post it note stuck on my workstation, saying how are you appreciate you're busy things like that. The email the way I'd like to say it and then have to go back and put the fluff in, you know, but it just seems like a colossal waste of time. I even had a draft email with the fluffin. So I could just copy and paste it in everyone else. Same thing. Hi, how you doing? Hope you having a really great week. Appreciate you're really busy. Can I ask you to do the following? Let me just paste that above thing I was gonna send them anyway. Right. Right. Thanks so much in advance
yep, I do know people who put things like that in their, in their signatures, which is pretty interesting, too. So, so clearly there's a there's a lot of people you know, is you know, thank you so much for your time. Look forward, you know, let You know, if there's anything else I can do to help, you know, like,
And honestly, I mean, I think in some ways, those are strategies, right? Like we're, you know, even in joking about it, they are strategies, and they are techniques that people people can use, I think, shining a light on the fact that it doesn't come as naturally for many people. And it has to be very well thought out very well planned. And I think that's a good insight for a lot of people. You know, I have educators and I have parents on here and I have employers listening. And it might not people might not recognize that how much work and effort that actually takes for a lot of people. Meanwhile, you know, we just want to get to, okay, so can you give me an answer to, you know, the meeting that we were, you know, that question we that came up at the meeting, just let me know what your thoughts are, or I need to know yes or no, by like tomorrow, like, that's really what I just want to know.
And there's loads of people out there who aren't neurodivergent, but prefer very plain speak. Yes, there tend to be people who you might call kind of go getters, they make decisions very easily, very dynamic people. They don't need the detail. Give me the headline, tell me what I need to know. And I'll give you a decision. So they don't want Hi, how are you? How was your weekend? I mean, for me, that's hairdresser talk, don't need it. You know, where are you going on your holidays? For 30 years, one of the reasons is I can't stand the small talk. And they don't listen, when you say this is like a meditation to me. Would you mind if I just didn't talk while you do this? Five minutes later, you go you're on your holidays? Because I like not robots, but they're in like a habit, aren't they of chit chatting, doing what they're doing? So I'm not crossing them because they understand. But it's very hard for them to change. For somebody sort of out of 25 customers today. One said, Could you not talk or I've got to remember not to talk? I guess. It's hard. I must give him to come a long way. My way.
Yeah, I have two things. I was thinking I have I've worked with to like, people in like that the beauty industry, I would say so one one, and I think more of it is is necessity. But that's I guess what I'll say for now, but like a massage therapist, who asked me directly, like, you know, I can be chatty. Is that something that you would want? Or are you like here just to kind of chill out and you know, and then I can be quiet? Like, I was like, oh my goodness, I don't have to feel badly if she starts talking to me. And I really am giving her like one word answers. And same thing I had, you know, hairdressers stylists say to me, you know, I'm usually actually it was the reverse. I'm usually pretty quiet. But if you want to chat, I'm totally open for chatting. And I was like, Oh, thank goodness. So so like, I could sit there and occasionally write it's like, oh, you know, how's your daughter doing? You know, like, kind of simple things. But, but it didn't. It wasn't it didn't feel pressured. And that was a really nice, a really nice experience. And I think it's so interesting, you said that there are lots of people who can be direct, and really want that, you know, headline, and you mentioned like those with your Go girl, you go getters and that. So helped me understand what the difference is between the person that would be I'm a that's a go getter who just really wants the facts and really direct and the person had that you mentioned earlier, which is, oh, man, they're like, they're really needy, and they're like a pain in the ass. What do I do with that? Right, because we could see the same type of behavior in two different ways. And so yeah, how did how does that flip like that? How do you think that flips?
So I always cuz a lot of neurodivergent people are really good mimics. And we're actually really tuned into people, people think the opposite is the case. But actually, we've spent all our lives tuning in to try and understand what's going on. So our senses are really on fire all the time. I can pick up a vibe in a room, I can take a side eye from someone and go, Whoa, I know exactly what's going on here. Everyone else in the room completely oblivious. And I'm like, really? Okay. And then you start doubting yourself going well, if I'm the only one picking this up, maybe this isn't actually what's going on. Maybe I've picked it up wrong. And later you find out you're right. And you're like, Oh, I hadn't imagined it at all. If you meet someone so I've met frog. When you meet someone who's a dynamic leader, you can hear the pattern in their language, they tend to speak quite quickly, but not like I speak very energetically, not just quickly. So quite often, you won't get a full sentence from me because my brain goes, Oh, I've got something else to add. And I don't quite get to the end. And so I can be a bit manic when I communicate when I'm excited or passionate that you won't normally see that in someone who is the Dyna make quick speaking very clear, they've thought about what they want to say in nanoseconds, they've said it, and now they're waiting for you to respond. And it's not that they're impatient necessarily, it's that they just don't need the extra. They don't seek it out, they didn't need it, and they're not going to give it to you either. Some people at that level, develop charisma to a level where they can do some of that, connecting with people. Like, I've always really jealous because my short term memory is shocking. My long term memory is great. I don't know quite how that works. But so if you'd told me about the name of your child or something, and I'd met you three months later, I could go, Oh, how's Fred? How's he doing? And he'd be like, Oh, you remembered my child's name? Wow, that's brilliant. I must mean something to you, or whatever. Whereas I just be like, how's your child doing? Because I know you've got a child remember that bit. But I, if my life depended on it, I could not tell you the name of your child, right? Seriously. And should you get upset about that? Should I be made to remember the name of your child, but because people feel good about it, that's an example of how someone can appear charismatic. Oh, I've remembered You're important to me, sort of thing. And that can be really great for someone who's got a super memory. And quite often people who are dynamic, and leader kind of roles have a great memory. And that's a real asset, to be able to not schmooze. I don't mean to denigrate it. Just to communicate and work with people like that.
Yeah. Get people to feel connected. Yeah. Yeah. Like people who feel really connected. And I know I mean, there are, yeah, there are jobs that are centered around keeping notes. For high level executives like that. Like it's it's a it's definitely a thing. I think of it as like the Devil Wears Prada movie with like, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway right. Where they, you know, that's what she does. She like reminds this high level executive of, that's so and so. And they have a wife, and the wife's name is this and the kids names that and, you know, they just got back from a trip to, you know, Spain or whatever like that goes to like every person. And, and so seemingly, you probably don't have to have that great kind of a memory, you just need to have really good people around you to help support you.
Not halfway. I'm sure she's not expensive. No, not at all. But it can really just boil down to modifying communication. It's not I'm asking people to rewrite the book. And as asking people to notice how someone else likes to communicate, and then perhaps just adapt to their way. So if I got an email, that was some question, deadline, can you get back to me? Let me know if you can do this. I'm going to reply back, Ilya. Yes, I can. Full stop. I don't have any questions. Obviously, if I have questions, I would put them in email. But it's really clear to me because you've been really great at communicating what you need and when you need it by, and you actually only need an affirmative from me. That's the end of that conversation until I deliver what you've asked me to do. You don't need to check in with me go and go. Oh, so how are you getting on with that project I asked you to do? Because my brain is going, go away? Go away. Stop mitering. Me? Do you now want me to explain my priority prioritization system? Or the other work I've got going on? Or do you want to drop everything I'm doing and do it instantly? Because it's more important than you told me it was, you know, this conversation is in my head now. Questioning, because why would you bother me about it? When we've agreed we've got a contract that I'm going to deliver it on a certain day and time. So just helping people understand that might be going through other people's heads, but they're actually confusing it by saying more than they need to.
Right, or they're not being as accurate as they, as you think they are. Right. So it's funny because I sent a text to a good friend the other day, and it was it was really it was a soft, it was sort of like a soft ask, and I was expecting a response. And then my husband says to me, Well, did you actually ask her the question in the text? How did you word it? It sounds like oh, let me read it to you. And then I read it to me because you didn't actually ask her a question. So she just liked it. She just liked your message. And
the other classic is when someone sends an email in the To field to three people. You and says, Can you do this for me? And the three people are like, Am I doing it? Are you doing it? Are they doing it? Do we now have to have a meeting to decide who's doing that? What can you just put? Sam? Can you do this? If not, can you tell me who can and leave it to me to find the whoever you could copy the other two in is for information only. But you should put Fred and Ginger copied for information only at this time. And leave that to me to consult with them about my workload or whatever. So there's a lot of things that are little tweaks that would solve some of the communication wooliness at work. Again, not for just for neurodivergent. But for everybody. Because I've just been clearer. How many people put something in the subject line that tells you exactly what you need to do with this? Is it for info only read later? Is it take action today? Is it prep for the meeting? You got it two o'clock? Because I'll probably read that one first. Surely. And the word urgent, hmm. Yeah. Urgent, as your house is on fire, you need to leave and go home. Right? Moreover, we're about to lose a 2 million pound contract, drop everything. Urgent, not urgent. I want to get it done by 4pm on Friday, because I'm going on holiday next week. That's not urgent. That's not now my, my urgency.
Right, right. Lies. But if you need someone to get it done at a particular time, I mean, I really liked that I've not, I've not really seen many people do that. I think I have. I've had one colleague that was really good at saying, you know, for information, you know, and then tell me exactly what they want me to do with it, which I really love. Or sometimes they ask the question in the subject line, which I'm not good at. But I actually really appreciate that. Because as I'm scanning my emails, because I get like 100 a day. So I look through them and I can go oh, a question I can answer right away. And they must know that that's a really good technique to get answered quickly, which I really like. Yep.
Yeah, I like that, too. And this bleeds over into kind of family communication, too. Whilst we won't not be emailing each other. We are talking to each other. And sometimes the communication can be really vague, and it's not clear that there's a question. It's quite often a statement and you're supposed to understand that that's also a question. Like, like, we're starting dinner. Okay. Oh, you want me to come and sit down and have dinner? Okay. So you need to say, Sam, will you come and eat? Because we're starting dinner? I'm like, Okay, well, that doesn't include me. That's fine. I'm not upset about that. I'll get dinner later then. Right, right.
Guilty is charged and your dinner is ready. Dinner's ready. And nobody would come, I'd be like, starting to get really pissed. Because I'm eating the food's good. So I'll go the food's gonna get cold. But you know what? You're right. It's the I'm not actually saying. If you don't get down here, soon, it's going to be cold and you then it won't be as pleasurable to eat. So could you please come to
the first without we don't last kind of implicit in the question, please. Will you come now to sit for dinner? Because Dinner is on the table? And they can say yes or no or whatever. Right? When you don't want to say no. But
if they're if they're if they're caught up in something, and don't worry, eat without me, I'll be right down. To the minute. That's usually a game early.
I am familiar with that response. But I respect it and totally respect it. But yeah, so I think this, these are great things. I mean, as far as what else do you think that? I guess the sound like really like habits right? And changing what our expectations are within the employment area. So what what can I guess a little bit about what can the employer do to kind of allow for these things you mentioned, like simple list of you know, and I really liked the word adjustments, even though I know here like legally, we'll use the term accommodations, but I really like adjustments. It feels less. I don't know it feels less clinical. It feels less like, you know, I don't know what the word is, but sterile, maybe that's the word. You know, it feels more warm to say, what adjustments do you need? Or, you know, here's a list of adjustments that we can make it work super simple. You know, what do you need kind of thing? Yeah,
I use the sort of, I call it the panoply of reasonable adjustments, accommodations and adaptations, because sometimes it is about accommodating somebody in a different way. Room, literally. So what I'm thinking either a quiet room or maybe if they're willing to spend a little bit of money, carving up that gigantic open plan office into the busy side and the quiet side with some soundproofing in between, because even muffled sound can be very irritating, maybe have a corridor down the middle to help buffer that sound. But it would allow the introverts and the people who prefer the quiet to get on with their job to sit that side. And the people who enjoy the hustle and bustle and vibrancy of noise and energy. And that's absolutely valid. Some people do they're itching to get back into the office, great. If I was working for a company, I'd be like, nope, nope, nope, I'll stay working from home. Thank you very much. If you can't provide a quiet space, but I'm not expecting you to provide a quiet space. That's that's the kind of angle to be really clear about with employers, there's no expectation that something special is going to happen for neurodivergent people. They're asking, Would you be willing to allow us to work slightly differently. So we can be the productive person you want us to be? It could be as simple as if I'm going to an interview, don't have the interviewers sitting in front of a window. Because I will only see their silhouette, I can't see their faces. So I have no additional information, no frown, no smile, I can't see anything. All I can see is a black silhouette. That's really intimidating. I mean, that's like a firing squad, almost seeing people in silhouette, and just me and firing questions at me. That's really going to ramp up the pressure. And this stupid, ridiculous traditional Oh, we want to see what you're like under pressure. At no point in your career, will you be asked to have that scenario where you're sat in front of people grilling you, unless maybe you're in the army or something. But in an ordinary day job or civilian day job, that never happens like that, you'll always have access to colleagues books, the internet, anything that you might need. So it's, it's not going to show how you're under pressure, it actually shows somewhat, somewhat under duress and stress, which is when we're at our worst, right? Our best. So why wouldn't you do a half day where I can come and sit with the team. And I couldn't meet the team that I might come and work with? It's not given I'm just coming to meet them. People talk about oh, we could we didn't hire you because you're not a good fit? How can you say that? If I've never met your team, they won't love me. The not a good fit. If someone's made an arbitrary decision about there was something they didn't like about you. And that's where they're saying no, but I can't possibly be a bad fit unless I've met everyone. Surely, just saying, I would suggest half days put aside, you have one or more candidates come in shadow the other people in the office, what do you do? How will they interact with you what other teams will they interface with, there could even be a session where there's like a little project test to test their skills, that's totally appropriate. And then they'd have some food together or a break together. So they can have that kind of more colloquial personal chitchat, not just work, work, work, work work, because that is a big part of your work with people a third of your life, or quarter of your life, or whatever it is, it's a long time. So you need to be able to get on with them. And people are interested in other people generally, but in the right place. So I'm not going to start asking someone I'm shadowing, so you married. Nothing to do with the task. However, if we're sitting at a canteen, and we're having a drink, that might be an appropriate question. So you're married, you know, cuz you're just asking to get to know someone. So by by allowing someone to have that process, that full process, not only will you be able to assess their skills, you'll be able to tell whether or not it's going to work within the team, because you'll get feedback from the team as well, not just the person interviewing, firing all those questions. And a person who's in the interview, don't forget is interviewing the company. Right? So they get to go, would I want to work here? I want you to forget that bit.
for a job, but it's all one way and it's
not. It's totally not. And I think you know, what you're what you're talking about here is I often find happens with more senior level jobs, right, like this sort of the high higher executive level, where oftentimes, you know, they recruit from other places that they may have worked with someone from or they already know them because of, you know, past relationships and they know how they work. And it'll be over a hey, do you want to do a phone call or Hey, you want to grab dinner one night, right? Like, it's like, that's kind of how the recruitment process starts happening. And, and it's done at a different level. But when we're talking about, you know, all along the whole, I mean, it's, it's not even so much a ladder anymore in a lot of places, it's sort of like kind of all over the place. But if we're looking at the different levels of jobs, right, oftentimes, we don't invest that same kind of time, when we're meeting someone who might be new to the organization or someone who might be entry level. And we're trying to assess whether they fit in. And I, it's funny, because often, when I do interviews, I really don't ask this very direct, like these very, you know, how do you think you'd be able to, you know, get on with managing a team of five people, like, I'm not, because you know, what I think I can from what you've written in your CV, and from if I look at your LinkedIn, and if I talk to you, you know, if I, if I get like a generic sense, I'm kind of assuming, at this place, you could probably do that, I just want to now make sure that you actually are a good fit with the other people that we're working with how closely you're going to work with me, they always meet everybody else, that they would be working with generic, you know, most of most of the people they'd be working with, and I want to get to see if people get a good vibe. I mean, that's, that's really, I remember saying, I did just recently hire a couple people. And I was like, I can teach skill, I can't teach energy. I can't teach vibe I can't teach, right, that kind of connection and vision that I can't teach. I can teach skill. That's, that's not that's not, you know, are they able to learn? Are they willing to learn? Like, that's the part that we can do? I can't right, see if you as a person fit into what we need as an organization. What makes sense with the other people?
Absolutely. And some of the questions aren't asked that should be asked they're missing a trick interview is if they're going to stick to that format. They don't ask, so what are you really great at? They always say, what are your weaknesses? Or they'll go what your strengths and weaknesses. And what they're really trying to find out is if you've got like massive training needs, or whatever, but most of them, oh, well, you know, I'm afflicted with perfectionism. That's my weakness.
Right, the Flippo and the one that goes both ways.
You take a really long time and don't deliver on your deadlines, then. Oh, no, that's not what I meant. Well, that's the weakness side of perfectionism.
Yeah, don't fight with me in an interview. But so, for instance, if I had a neurodivergent person in front of me and say, I was in HR, and I was being asked by the organization to conduct a conventional interview, with a set of questions. Some of the questions I would ask, would be trying to Winkle out with that person, tell me what your strengths are what you bring to the party, why are you why are you going to become an asset for our organization? And then we can talk about what support needs you might have, but I'm not going to call them weaknesses. Because that's, that's already labeling them as your deficit in some way. And if that's not asked, you know, right. At the very end, people will say, Oh, have you got any questions to ask us, that's the perfect opportunity. If it's not been asked to say, actually, I'd like to tell you about all the things I bring to the party, if that's okay with you. Because I'm neurodivergent, I am an ideas machine, I'll give you 1000 ideas in an hour, okay, you might only use two. But if you're stuck, and you haven't got people who are churning out ideas left, right, and center, where's your innovation, I'm incredibly good at processing, improvement and efficiency. If there's a more efficient way, I will find it, I might save you money and time. I'm also really good at pattern recognition and problem solving. So getting me in a room doesn't matter if I know the people or the subject, just tell me what the problem is. And I'll help you solve it. Those are my talents, because I can think slightly differently to other people. Now, I might need a little bit of support because I thrive in a quieter environment. I don't really like people bumping the back of my chair as they walk past. So be great if my chair was near a wall. If you have a paranoid manager that needs to see what's on my screen, put a mirror behind me, I don't really care about that, because I'm just here to work. I've got strong work ethic, I will not be at my best at 830 in the morning. So I'd like to tell you now instead of staring into my coffee cup for two hours, if I can start at 10 and finish at seven, you'll get a full nine hour day out of me. So that's really the support needs I have for all of the really good stuff that I offer. Over to you. A lot of neurodivergent people that's a really hard thing to say to sell a sheriff like that. But a lot of people also start with well, I'll need help with this and I need help with that. And can I have that if they are able to self advocate at all. And then they might go, oh, but I've got a strong work ethic, I'm really loyal. And I'm just really a shopping list of all I've got to deal with. Whereas if you sell all the good stuff, I'm going to be really excited. And then you go, this is some support needs. And I'm like, yeah, yeah, we'll sort those. That's fine. We'll figure it out. Because I love the stuff you've told me about.
No, exactly. And I think, you know, from the other side, the question I can ask, so to be your best self. And I do kind of ask it, I have never asked it this exact way, though. But I think I would ask it differently and say, you know, for you to bring all of those strengths that, you know, I see in you to the table, what do you need to be your best self at work? Like what kind of, you know, input support people around you? Like, what do you need to be your best self and I, and I've had people offer that to me as, as, you know, as employees. And as I hate saying like that that way, to me, it's like, we're a big team. Everybody has different jobs, and we just kind of do what we need to do. But yeah, I think that would be a better way for me to ask that question in the future. At least one way anyway. Yeah.
Yeah. I'd love more interviewees to ask at the end. How, tell me how I could be a really great team member for you, what's a really great team member you describe with that person? And then I'll know if it's a good fit. Right? You asked really? I do. But you don't tell me what you need. It's an unknown. Yeah.
And I always valued managers who would say this is what we, you know, we have to offer you as an organization, like, I always found that really interesting, you know, and it cuz sometimes it's just, it was very benefits driven, like we offer tuition reimbursement, because we want to, you know, give you support and be able to support you in development and professional development, all that those were very important things to me, because I love learning. So that's great. But but, you know, I think seeing that a manager, or a team is open to really making sure my well being at work is important to them, because then I can give my best self. That's huge. Like, I think that's huge. And I think asking that the way you just said, and a prospective employee could ask that question is really is really critical. And it's not it? I mean, I'd welcome that question. I'd be like, oh, shoot, I didn't think of that I should have.
And this person obviously wants to be a member of this, this this company, or, you know, an employee of this company. And part of the company's vision and mission and you know, and part of the team, this person is not just coming here for a wage with that question. Right, I think, right. Yeah, it's a comforting question on both sides, I think, because if you get a great answer from the interviewer, not because they've anticipated but because that they're able to answer it and say, Well, you know, beyond the benefits and packages that might be available. You know, this is what we expect from our team, this is what we want. And it might be for that company. And aim start is a heart. Whatever law hotline, there is an AMC. And that's for some reason, incredibly important to the company. And if you can't do an ATM start, then maybe it's not a good fit. Right? Right. Right. And that might give me a chance to say, well, I can do an ATM start, but I won't actually start work till 10.
Right, maybe there's something else I can do until
maybe I'll just read or something.
No, and it's actually just equally as valuable as the prospective employee. Again, if that is an expectation, maybe it's a call center, right? Or maybe it's it's a health care facility where there's like, shift work, and they need someone in it seven, right, like that seven to three or whatever. So then I need to, I need to set my own expectations that oh, this is the type of job where I, I will typically have to start at 7am and work, you know, and you know, unless maybe there is a night shift, maybe that's a better choice. And I have to start looking for those types of jobs. I often say that when something doesn't fit and doesn't work out like that information is probably just as if not more valuable. When you're looking for work, then then the everyone's being nice and playing, you know, like, yes, we want you here. And it's all like real nice, nice on the surface, and then you get in and then all of a sudden, all the real expectations start coming up. And then you're like, Oh, I didn't realize that or they may may have hinted at it, but you didn't really like grab on to it. And you're like, oh, they said maybe weekend? I don't know if I can I don't know if I feel comfortable with that, you know, and you'd go oh, well, I'll figure it out. I'll figure it out. But maybe that's actually something that's really important to that employer. And if we don't make it clear on both sides then right? We ended up mismatching, and that's just kind of like miscommunication with relationships right? If we miss communicate, and we press Then something that isn't real eventually is not going to work
attorney and it can happen at the point of contract. So you've gone through all that process of possibly multiple interviews, because nowadays there's more than one interview sometimes. And you get to the point where you're about to sign the contract. And then the contract says, from time to time, we'll be asking you to work over for no overtime. And I make What does from time to time mean? Is that every other day, every week, every day, what does that mean? Does that mean weekends? Does that mean? What does it mean? That kind of woolly language, I wouldn't sign that contract, I'd say you have to define what that means. up to a maximum of or something, or never on a Sunday or something, I need to bet upon my life a little bit. And I totally appreciate that there are jobs like nursing and things like that shift work, the emergency services, especially where you're right, you know, the shift, like with the police, I used to do the shift system with the police. So we started at 6am. And you did that for seven days, then you have a couple of days off, and then you're starting on lates. So you start at 2pm. And my poor body is going, what was it? Yeah. And really, really bad for your digestive system. Because quite often you're eating a meal at three in the morning and your brain is going should be asleep. Why are you eating? But then you're asleep later, not eating. So you either lose loads of weight or gain loads of weight, you know? It's just Yeah, it's, I understand why the shift system is there. But it's actually really not healthy. And I would say that it's extra not healthy for people who, who need to plan things. So if you're applying shifts are probably not your, your kind of favorite way to work.
Right, unless it's super consistent like that. And I think that's the other thing is super consistency. And I just thought of another thing, like I was looking at my own job description with this new position that I have, which it has been like five months already, but so it's not that new. But one of the bottom line said, other other tasks, as assigned was like, you know, it's like, here's a list of all the things you're going to be doing. And it's, you know, other other tasks as assigned. And, and I just thought I just laughed, because I mean, I know, everyone I've worked with really well, and I love it there. So it's totally fine. I understand that priority shift, and you know, depending on where our focuses, but I would rather you know, now as I, as I'm creating these job descriptions myself, I'm going to look at them and say, We really shouldn't have it, let's be more specific, like, you know, scope of the job may change, but you know, always with discussion or something like I don't know, we'd have to come up with better language, but it's almost frightening to read, write like other tasks as a sign. I'm like, I don't know, this seems like a really big job to begin with. What else are they gonna throw at me?
Absolutely. And that will probably stem from one bad experience where someone said, I'm not doing that it's not in my job description. Probably. So dealing with that one problem, then put like a sort of a get out clause in future ones. But I wouldn't turn that off. No chance.
Yeah. And and the thing is, I think we kind of know that jobs, I would say, generally speaking, depending on the type of work, of course, jobs shift, and they change and needs change of the organization. And, you know, positions might change. But I'd say, you know, I can't I've always been fortunate that where I've worked, people have been super flexible with changing and being really communicative, at least in my corporate, corporate and nonprofit work. When I was a teacher, and now that's a whole different thing. Everything is very prescribed, like, there's a structure, there's a time commitment, like everything. It's a contract, it's very, very detailed. And straying is really frowned upon.
Yeah, but it's not really close that there might be something extra, or they need to add, because I understand why it's there. Plenty to add is upon mutual agreement. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I'm not going to do it just because you say I have to do it, because you told me to do it. Not your slave. Just because you pay me a wage employee.
And that's that atwill part that's at the beginning, right, we have at will employment so either party can decide that this doesn't work for them and step away. It's totally fine. But yeah, yeah, no, that's great. I mean, you know, I totally so um, so do you do this type of work? Do you consult with I know you do. But do you consult with employers and with individuals as well?
I do. Yes. Yes. And, and even recruitment companies, so we're just sort of set aside because they're not going to actually be working with individuals. But when a recruitment company receives over request from an employer of some description and organization saying, Okay, can you put this job advert out, and they don't put a salary range? Why would I apply for it, if I don't know it's going to cover my bills, just saying. You can put a range in, it doesn't have to be one number. And if you're that secretive about what people earn at certain levels of your job, in your company, there's a problem, transparency, hello. But anyway, I can see I'm digressing down that route. Now stop coming back to the main thing.
That's a whole nother, that's a whole nother podcast.
But also in the job advert, quite often, they'll say things like, minimum six years experience required. And if I'm neurodivergent, and I read, minimum six years experience required, and I have five years, 11 months and 20 days experience, I'm not going to apply for that job. Because it says minimum six years experience, and I don't have that. I don't want to be sitting in front of them. And for them to say, so tell us about this six years experience to go? Well, it's nearly six years experience all Well, well, you know, well, sorry, you don't qualify? Because that's what we think is going to happen.
Right? Right. Totally not what happens exactly.
is a better word. Sure, but not essential.
Right. And we have the way, the way we've written that is, you know, we say master's degree preferred. However, experience will be accepted in lieu of, you know, a higher degree or something like that. But yeah, so we know, like, yeah, this would be nice to have. But like, if you have a ton of experience in what we're looking for, we don't care. Just come,
just come. I was sitting there with with a clone of me only they've got a master's. And they're fresh out of that master's. And I've got 25 years of experience, who's going to be looking better? Right? Essential, I'm not going to be applying you'll get that one.
And that's coaching in we've had to do and I've had to do with adults, as I know, I know it says that on the job description and on the posting, don't worry, seriously, don't worry about it. Let's just give it a try. Just apply. It's you know, when it's a really hot, it can be a really hard barrier. Because then it creates an anxiety, yes,
to apply. And right. Oh, those organizations that say we don't accept CVS, you have to fill out our application form. And some people have spent a lot of money on CVS a lot of time and effort. Second them ages to craft the perfect CV that's not too long, not too short. Everything's in the right order the right font, all of that shenanigans. And then they go, we don't accept CVS. And I My blood boils in an instant. And I'm like, well, I won't be working for you then. Because of that is disrespectful. Not only have I got a LinkedIn profile, which is a living CV, I've everywhere I've worked and the things that I do, I have a prepared a planned bespoke CV for this organization, not just a generic one, a bespoke job. And you're saying you don't want it because you want me to fill in your application form. And if you want to write a covering letter.
Right, right. So you know, I know those online applications too, are evil, like, you know, LinkedIn does it and employers have the link. I mean, we're talking every type of employer for every type of job that's out there no matter how high level and they say, please go online and fill out the online application. And honestly, that's like the death it goes into the black hole. Nobody looks almost nobody looks at it. Right. It's really hard. And and yeah, I mean, I have to say we used a software for the most recent hires, and they I was very conscious of not letting them excuse me, like not letting them get lost
your turn for the frog?
I did. Yeah, it was. But yeah, I'm really conscious of making sure that they don't get lost. I wanted to make sure that everyone was heard at least got an email from me personally, so that they felt like seen you know, and I didn't meet with everybody to really so I wanted to just make sure you know, I and I was I met with someone and I was like, Oh, wow, I would have I'm glad I met you like this is a great this is a great idea like he's a great fit. So I think we have to really be mindful if we're going to use those tools that we really like, use them well and and I like seeing how someone prepared their their CV resume on the side like I want to see the effort that went into that. I want to see how you wanted you to how you wanted to present yourself to me. And yes, a cover letter. I don't I don't require them because I also know that it's really anxiety provoking for a lot of people to write a cover letter. But if you want, I like to see them because I want to see your writing style. And I want to see how you share your thoughts with me and what you think is important and what you highlight from your, from your experience. So I mean, I think that's the reason for all of those components, but we need to use them.
Why does it have to be in one way? So whilst we might enjoy a cover letter, because I love seeing people's handwriting, and I love seeing how they express themselves? Absolutely, just like you, I'd equally be happy to receive a video or an audio file, where they're able to express themselves like that instead. Or idea, they could type it up, if that was their preferred way of doing and they might just explain, look, my handwriting is not amazing. I've never really mastered that craft. And a lot of people haven't, especially if they're left handed, they find that very difficult. It might be that they're dyslexic, and they rely on spellcheck to make sense of what they've written. And that's perfectly acceptable to it might be that they use a Dictaphone it could be because they're visually impaired, there's any number of reasons why people might want a different way of conveying the information you'd put into a covering letter. So if I then let them know, these are the different ways you could do your covering letter, in quotes, appreciate people can't see me right now. They need like little noise, like
I'm not that savvy on this platform.
Maybe I should just stop doing them. But yeah, having options would be really great. And is it more work for the person who's recruiting? Yes, of course, it is. Because you haven't just got your pile of papers to look at and compare. You've got different media to compare. Some will be longer than others, some you know, but I think then you'll be seeing an expression of each individual. Truly. And isn't that what you want? When you're recruiting? You're trying to find out? Not just the number remember?
Right. And I, you know, this is I work with educators. And this is what I, I expressed to them, it's so important to have different ways to assess for knowledge, right? And to assess ability, it's not always going to be that multiple choice test, it's not always going to even be short answer. It's not going to be the essay. Let me and I think the best models, my my kids had a few really great teachers, and they had students do a lot of project based expression of their knowledge, and have them be able to submit things in different ways, can you you can send me a video, you can make a movie, you can do an audio, you know, file, you can do a playlist, like they gave them song. And yes, if you want to do like the three page paper, go for it, like you know, whatever you want to do PowerPoint, like whatever, just show me that you meet these, these are the requirements of the assignment. Go like just do it in a way. And then if you have another idea, hey, reach out to me, I'm open to other suggestions that I may not have thought of, Wow, what a great model, right to be able to then take that, and use that same thing as you move into adulthood and go into the world of employment, because that's actually the best way is to express yourself in the best way for yourself. And I know we have to fit into, you know, some sort of norms, but I think we should change what some of those norms are.
I know change is hard, I do appreciate that. But even something as simple as how one uses PowerPoint, right classic, either at school or corporately or whatever. And there's this, that's like people are stuck to it like glue. PowerPoint has lots of bullet points on the slides, and lots and lots and lots of words. And they're essentially the notes for the speakers, for some reason. And what they don't realize is that everyone in the audience is now reading the slide and no longer listening to the speaker. So either you put a slide up with loads of words and say, I'll just let you read that and shut up. Or you put a picture up and you give the narrative. Right, right. That's what works. And when I've delivered PowerPoints into corporates, they're so funny. They're like, oh, so can we have a copy of your slides? And like, Absolutely, and they get 12 pictures? And they go, sorry, where are the notes? Did you want a handout? So do you want like the transcription of what I'm saying because you don't want to make any notes? Because having old pictures isn't really going to help if you look at them in a month's time, aren't they just gonna go they're pretty
So when I'm working with employers and delivering like a lunch and learn or something, I will automatically assume what they want is an old fashioned set of slides. So what I give them is a handout with what I'm going to say. And my pictures are on my PowerPoint accompanying what I'm saying. So I give them both, but I kind of educate them at the same time and say, you know, you can do presentations like this, too. Even give people the information in advance. So if they have a slower uptake, in terms of it takes them longer not because they're slow, people making very clear that distinction, because it takes them longer to digest the material, they might have to read it several times, they might want to make notes next to it. So they can ask questions later. Because actually, their processing isn't at the same speed at some of the other people who are watching. My speed is at 100 miles an hour all the time. And I had to learn that not everybody is processing at the same speed as I am. And there's something about go, you've got to dumb it down for people, I'm not dumbing anything down. I'm actually trying to give somebody else a fighting chance to process this brand new information. I've just given them think about it. And then give them the opportunity to ask a question if they want to. Why wouldn't I do that for anybody?
Right? Now, it totally makes sense. It totally makes sense. Yeah. So
the same way, you might provide a slide deck to someone who's visually impaired, so their screen reader can read it out to them. And they can understand what's on there, they can make it really massive if they need to zoom in. I've had a few people do that, where we issued instructions for breakout rooms. And she said, Oh, can I have those in advance because I can then zoom it like massive, and I can make my own way of notes. And then I'll no actual make voice notes for herself. And she said, you know, it was so helpful to have those two days ahead of time, I can't tell you how helpful that was, I never get that. Blown away. That simple act of just have them in advance. It was brilliant, really, really brilliant. And people are afraid that if you give them the notes in advance, they won't listen in the in the session. And that's not true. Because the people who who will never read those notes are coming to listen. And there are lots of people like that. How many meetings have you been to where the prep work has not been read at all by the people attending? And then you end up going through the prep work in the meeting? Because no one's right. That's right. We've all been to those. But there will be individuals who will be so grateful that they got it in advance, and they will devour it, consume it. And then yes, they're going to attend the session and hear it all again. But that second time of listening will kind of embed the learning. I'm not sure what she meant. Oh, did I miss what she just said on I'm trying to make notes. But oh, can I ask her to go but I asked 200 people on this call. I can't ask her to go. Right and then experience
and they're not paying attention, which is the whole intent of them wanting to be Yeah, right.
Talking about so I'm going
Yeah, yeah. And I think this this concept of giving things in advance, I always thought was interesting. Like in colleges, and even in high school, you know, note takers, like giving the notes to students which, and we have it as an accommodation. But I'm thinking well, what why wouldn't it be helpful for all the kids to kind of have? I mean, I use the term kids loosely. I know, I'm also talking about young adults here. But why wouldn't we have everybody that, like I have access to notes, like, the real notes that the teacher really wanted them to take that maybe they didn't like, you know, get it all or whatever. Like, to me, it never made it like why are we hiding that information from them? Like, I thought we wanted them to learn it and we want them out?
In some way, right? Much like the way that we exam. People examine people, test people, that's the word and the whole so when I was at school quite a long time ago, as I'm nearly 50 And we were sat in a great big room, in a solitary desk, you know, everyone was all spaced apart and everything. Right, then you've got three hours to complete your paper. You weren't allowed to drink water. You weren't allowed anything other than the pen in your hand. You're allowed to tissue but they had to inspect the tissue beforehand to make sure you hadn't written all your answers on it. It was in my hay fever was her rendus so I ended up sticking the tissue up my nose to try and stop the dribble. And then yeah, three hours to answer questions I'd never seen before in my life. That didn't make any sense because nobody asks questions like exam questions in real life. They're long, woolly, wordy things. And then they'll say, like, discuss.
There's no one here.
Just means there's someone else there. I'm discussing it with a nobody. Okay, right. Anyway, but they'd never give you processing time, you're expected to just know it and write down the answer. When actually I needed time to think about what I thought they wanted me to answer. And frequently, even in, like, not the big exams, but tests along the way. I throw myself into an answer because the clock is ticking. And I, I get the red pen and be out and they'd be like, zero answer, not the answer to this question. And I would be so Oh, so cross a bit in excruciating pain, because I didn't feel I was allowed to say, perhaps you'd like to write a clearer question then. Everyone else did it. Did they though?
everyone. I'm only one. I'm sure you're not.
I'm sure you're not. You're either.
Yeah, we could go on a whole nother thing on standardized testing. That's just beautiful. Yeah.
Anybody even at home, so a lot of these things really do keep coming back to at home, whether they're children or grown ups. Okay. So like my husband, autistic. That's probably why I was drawn to him, because he's also really really shy. He's an introvert. And I'm obviously not when you say that I am actually an introvert. All this debris talking thing is to cover up how terrified I am all the time. But also, I, I think outwardly so if I think I speak out loud. Even when I'm on my own my cats just look at me like who are you talking to? So I my husband does all his talking inside his head. So I have to try and figure out what's going on and put a pull it out of it. But because I know that about him, and I know that when he's really stressed, he can't cope with even a question. Even an offer of help is too much for him to process. I know to leave him alone, leave him alone, no matter what. I won't leave him alone because he's in the stress zone. And I see lots of, you know, mums and dads and they'll be like, oh, you know, I asked my child for their attention for one reason or another. And, and they just ignore me. And I make what in the middle of something? Well, yeah. Okay. So if you were in the middle of something, would you like it if someone demanded that you stop what you're doing instantly and respond to them?
Or probably not. Okay. So. So maybe you could give them a warning and say,
I don't know. Let's call Tom. Hey, Tom, I'm going to ask you a couple of questions in five minutes. Right now Tom might not respond. Or they might not their head, or they might go or whatever. You know, it's not great communicators usually. But in five minutes time, and it has to be five minutes time, because that's what you said, stick to what you said, put an alarm on your clock, if you have to on your phone. Tom, you know, I said I wanted to ask you a couple of questions. Can I ask them now. And wait, they might just be finishing off something. I'm doing a game thing again. I'm going it's probably a game, let's face it, or something else that they're doing, maybe on his phone. And just give him a few seconds to just disengage from that. Kind of come back to a neutral state and then re engage with the new thing, which is you. And that might take a few seconds to do but everyone's in such a mad hurry. And they get really impatient and they're like, Why aren't you answering me now? Hello, can you hear me and they're getting ready to cross. If you can try to give them a few seconds to change from one thing to the other, you'll get a much better result, you won't get a meltdown, you won't have a shouting match, you'll have their full attention. So when you've got them when he's turned to you, he might not be looking you in the eyes because that can be very challenging for some people, but not all. And you can learn how to do it a bit because I'm living proof of that. Then saying no. Have I got your attention? Is it okay? If I ask you a couple of questions. Great, fantastic. So you ask your questions, you have your conversation, whatever it is, and then you need to know that that Converse Patients now over and he needs to know that conversation is over, and you're not going to walk away and then throw another question over the fence. You know, there's just occurred to you, which might happen. But if he's gone back to his game, he's already changed date. And you might have to go through that process again, as frustrating as that sounds, because I want to just ask a question, what's wrong with you? Understanding the way his brain works and adapting to the way his brain processes life, will defuse a lot of the conflict at home. I use Tom as an example that could be Mary could be anyone. Yeah,
no, I think that's a great point. I think that's the same thing with him with working with colleagues, right, like if we want to meet with them, if we want to have a conversation, I think it's super important. You know, and I guess now that we're like, right now, we're all remote. So it's, it's kind of we have to sort of set up the like a meeting, you know, we have to give a little heads up, which is helpful, because I think in you know, in the before times, it was, hey, can you pop into my office for a second? And that terror, right of like, oh, no, I don't know what my manager is gonna say to me right now. Or, you know, I mean, well, it's really innocent. It's just like, No, I just want to chat with you about a project or just, it could be seemingly really just normal work stuff. But it feels different. If you, you know, unless you give that heads up and like, hey, I want to talk to you about, we're going to talk about this specific thing on this day. Or can you tell me a few times that work for you? Were you know, about talking about this topic? I think that would be really helpful for so many people to avoid, like ambiguity or anything like that. And I know it won't be. It's not a perfect thing, but but it would just minimize so much stress for sure.
You're not wrong. I know. You're 100% right, with that the amount of times it could you step into my office immediately we expect the worst? Of course we do. We think I'm either about to be let go because it has happened. Or, or being told off. There's a problem of some kind, you know, because we just think, oh, no, what have I done? And that's, again, we kind of it's learned behavior from school from home, you know, we're trained to think something bad is going to come of this because they haven't smiled or something. You know, even just going, Oh, if you've got five minutes, can you come into my office? Right? Oh, okay. It might be a Cheshire Cat smile, which I mean trouble now.
Most times, though, it'll at least give an indicator that this probably isn't going to be too serious, or something I have to worry about.
It's no biggie. I just want to share something with you. Right? What does that even give me? Anybody else an idea of what it is? It's no biggie, I just want to share something with you or ask you a question.
Exactly, exactly. Just
because as most neurodivergent people are probably working on a note that attends stress, all the time. Everything is stressful, rehearsing conversations, analyzing conversations you've had, trying to make sure that you're doing the right thing behaving the right way, not having a temper tantrum, God forbid you should have any emotion at work. No thanks. And so everything is massive effort. And and then when something goes wrong, it can look like someone's had what one might call an overreaction to something that seems quite small or insignificant to others. But when that was the 27th thing that went wrong before nine o'clock, I did the expression, the last straw that broke the camel's back. That's what's happening. You know, in my, in my home, when my husband has had a pretty stressful day, he's a programmer. And he drops a knife in the kitchen, and the error is blue all of a sudden. Lots of swear words. There's absolutely no point me going can I help or running in? Because I know. It's the last straw today. Right? Right. That's all that is. It's a response to that. He's not angry at me. He's angry at the fact he dropped the knife. That's it. It's annoying. Right? Right, right. More than annoying. It was. Ah, another thing.
That's right, that's right.
Absolutely. lash out at the other stuff that stressed him out because it's work and you can't lash out and you know, you bottle it up and it
explodes with the simplest thing right?
And learning how he needed to have tasks one at a time. So there's no point me saying to him, can he go upstairs and get the washing basket bring it down, take it back upstairs and can you start a bath and can you start hoovering. He would just look at me with panic in his eyes and go so see what mean a Hoover
right whatever The most recent thing is
Tara and its eyes, or he'd start like fiddling with his head because he's got kind of a stim where he does repetitive behavior through the side of his hair. And I can tell I've just like, pushed him up to a nine and 9.9 on his stress scale just by asking multiple questions. So we have an understanding that when there's some tasks to be done, and I'm doing some and he's doing some, I just want to make it clear, I'm not getting him to do all my housework. But I also give him a choice, because we both have pathological demand avoidance, which means that even though we might want to do something, it can be incredibly difficult to start that thing. And if somebody, I'll give you a scenario, I was going to Hoover my mom's lounge, because I knew that that would make her happy, because she's a clean freak. Until as I was walking towards the Hoover, my mum said, Oh, good. Will you go and Hoover the lounge? On my pathological demand avoidance went? No, no, no, I was about to do it anyway. Because now you've told me to do it. Now I can't do it. The thing I'd have done it. So, of course, we didn't know about all that stuff when I was a kid. So it was just very confusing and frustrating. But because I do know about that stuff. As an adult. I can work with Dave on it. So I'll say something like, Would you like to do the hoovering or the washing up? And he'll joke and go? Well, I'd like to do neither. And I'd like Well, yeah, me to bake but to happen, and I'm giving you a choice, because I'm going to do the other one. And we also have to do it at the same time. So he will always pick the one that takes the least amount of time to do not the least amount of effort, which is really interesting, because a lot of people will go for the one with the least amount of effort. So having them lounge for him is a lot quicker than doing a mountain of washing up. So he'll go to the lounge option, which my back is very grateful for. Me, that's my back. So I go and do the washing up, which I don't love either. But it's the best of the two bad things. Right? Right. At the same time, because if he's playing a game while I'm doing washing up my inner child going, I'm doing all the chores, he's just playing games. And if he's hoovering and I'm playing a game, he's like doing kind of sideways to me going home, I'm doing chores and you're playing games. No, children are very much.
Right. But it's again, it's an agreement, right? Like it's having those conversations and being really transparent and open. And I think, you know, from from all sides, whether it's you know, home relationships, whether it's work relationships, I think, you know, a lot of what we talked about today is is about being really clear in what we're saying and what we're asking for and, and it's it's an all way street, I'm not even gonna say it's a two way it's like all, you know, all everyone has to kind of be on that page of trying to be as clear as we can. And I think you know, when you mentioned before, it's learned behavior, right? If we can start doing this earlier on, then you might not have that inner child like freaking out. Because it's like, oh, wait, that's right. I'm doing this now. Because it makes sense for me to do it now. But then he's gonna be doing something else. And then I can choose to kind of take some time. And that still might not work. I feel the same way as you like I get that's how you know it works here too. Like I'll feel super resentful if I'm like, How come he's on his phone? Here like you know, folding laundry what? But there are other times right that I'm doing the I'm doing my thing and he's fixing something in the garage or he's you know, doing whatever. Yeah,
and it's slightly different for ADHD people as well. I just wanted to kind of make that distinction. So because one size doesn't fit all never did never will. Books like feel the fear and do it anyway. So it's all an Eat That Frog and and things like that they're talking about, take on the big project. Do that first instead of all the little ones. But that doesn't work for an ADHD brain because we need dopamine in order to function. So we need to do the little ones and go, I'm a hero. I've done all this stuff. I've done nine things before 10 o'clock, oh kicks in. Now I can have the energy and the up feeling to start tackling the big project as long as nothing else exists that day. If there's a telephone call in two hours, that project is not getting started. Because what's the point? Two hours will stop. I will never go back to that project again. Yeah, it'll be another started Project.
Now, that's an excellent point. And I know I know many people who fall into that I think sometimes myself included you If I don't have four hours to work on that one note, forget it. I'm not even gonna bother. I'll wait till I have my half day, right?
Absolutely, yeah. And my phone is off, my emails are off, you know, I don't respond to emails immediately. I know that might drive some people up the wall because I'm expecting an immediate response. But I'm not all my notifications are off. This doesn't go bing, bing, bing me or anything my phone I'm holding up. I will get to the my phone and my notifications when I feel I'm ready to sit down and plow through all the emails and the messages and all that sort of stuff. But I make sure I tell people, that's how I am. That's the big, I don't just do it and expect them to accommodate me. I say to them, Look, I'm not great at coming back immediately. If you need something done right now, for some reason. Ring me, I will always pick up the phone. If I notice you. If it's a strange number, not so much. If I haven't got your number, because we don't know each other. Well, text me, tell me who you are. So you're gonna ring me in a minute. And we'll talk? You know, there's very easy ways to get stuff done with me if I if I tell you how. But when we join an organization, when was the last time someone said to you, Oh, how'd you like your team coffee? That's, that's pretty much every time you join a new team of some kind, or even a new meeting. But when did they ever say? What's your communication style? How do you like to deal with emails? Do you prefer a phone call? Or are you actually a bit phone phobic, which some people are and would always prefer something written? No one else has that.
Right? I mean, except I work in an autism advocacy organization. So actually, we do maybe that as much as we should even but but we were also ungrateful for people that I work with who are comfortable sharing that, you know, sharing that information. So I think that's something that's learned also, it's like, right, building that self awareness, building the ability to communicate what does work for you and say, you know, I'm not really great with email. But if you need me right away, text me, or, you know, those just simple things that make such a big difference. And it's definitely all you know, it takes time. None of this is, is quick, for sure.
No, no. And a lot of people I have helped individually, they've got bosses who are micro managers. And they worry because this person is not like them that they have to keep on them all the time, when actually that's not the case. It's not the truth. And there'll be monitoring going. So how's that project going? So, you know, we've got any questions for me, like constantly throughout the day, which would drive me nuts. So I say to the individual, you can manage upwards, you know, you can say, Hey, boss, rather than us having this to and fro all day long. How about we have 510 minutes in the morning, we'll look at the work I've got for today, I'll tell you what I'm doing you tell me if my priorities have changed. And I'll ask any questions I have. And then we'll have another conversation again, at just before lunch 12 or something like that. And I'll tell you what I've done so far, how I've got on with it, any questions I might have for you. You can also restore me if I've gone down the wrong road or whatever. And then I'll crack on. And then we'll have an afternoon meeting as well. Again, just five or 10 minutes, and we'll put them in the diary. So I'll know that you'll kind of come over and ask me some questions. And I'm gonna give you like a little mini report of where I've got to, and you'll know you're going to be able to keep tabs on me. Obviously, you've phrase it slightly differently, maybe? Who is?
you get the check ins that you would like, yeah, the confirmation that things are going as planned. And that way, you can kind of manage upwards, so they get their touch points that they desperately want, because they're micromanaging. You don't have someone might bring you every five minutes, because you know, it's going to be three touch points through the day, instead of 27. They actually get more work done because they're not constantly coming and murdering you and somebody you
write and it calls anxiety. Again, everyone, like there, everybody's anxiety can get put into check and say, Look, I'm not gonna have someone showing up at my desk while I'm trying to get something done. And the manager can feel like you know what, I have a check in at 12. I feel good with that. And, and I know, I know, I get my touch points as I need them. And I can go do something else focus on somebody else.
It's a great way of doing micro accountability, right, which I think is much much better than micromanaging. So it can work really well. You know, when people are put on put on like, I think they call it a performance improvement plan when things are not going well. Right, right. Yep, that can be a very effective way of helping someone come through that process. and out the other side smelling of roses. And then of course the manager looks really good too. Right? Right. You don't want a failure on your hands. You want a success?
Yes. Yes. works for everyone. Totally.
Totally. So why did you lose that team member? Well?
Well, I very much enjoyed this time chatting with you. This is this is a lot of fun. You're a lot of fun to to chat with and share ideas with. And I definitely would love to kind of, you know, catch up again and pick pick another topic, because I know you do speak on so many different things. So I would love that.
Cool. Yeah, I'd love that too.
Thank you. Great. So I will put all of your contact information in the notes of this podcast. And so people can find the work that you do. I'll put your LinkedIn in there. And then they can follow up with you.
Awesome. Well, yeah, I look forward to chatting to anyone who wants to talk about this subject. And I hope I can help. That's why I'm here.
Absolutely. Thank you so much. Take care. Thanks for listening to autism in real life. This is Ilia Walsh. And if you liked the show, please hit subscribe so you can get notified each time a new episode is released. I also offer training, consultations and parent coaching and would love to help you in any way that I can. You can check out my offerings at the spectrum strategy.com And when you join my email list, you can get a code to receive a discount off of an online class or a coaching session. Looking forward to hearing from you. Take care and see you next time.
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