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My Co-Workers Are Not My Friends

My coworkers all seem nice....but what I forget is that it always starts out this way, then things can change - terribly. I can only be expected to do so well. I tend to overshare, and I may seem less mature in my humor, more esoteric in my interests, and naive bordering on foolish to my co-workers. But I forget all of that in the midst of overstimulation.

There has been an initial super friendly phase, where we get to know each other, kind of like an icebreaker phase, a bit silly in interactions (it is also when they are so nice that I begin to trust them, and we exchange info - maybe even oversharing - and that's all info they can use as ammo later or to make judgements about me....I forget all of that in the moment). But now comes the real banter. I can't do banter. It's when things are less polite and nice - there's teasing dished out and sass expected back, or some kid of good response/comeback. People see how you deal with them, and they will determine your status on the social totem poll. Well, they've been doing that from day 1 - even with the icebreaker phase...but I stink at all of this. Glad I made it through the first phase...I'm not doing so great int he second phase, it caught me by surprise - but of course, this always happens. I'm okay with the first phase, then I can never veer from that - others expect the nature of a relationship to change, and I expect it to remain on that first polite level. And they have a very negative impression of me, leading to rejection and bullying, when I don't measure up to the expectations of phase 2.

I need to remember to stop oversharing now. My interests are considered random and weird and foolish to them - and that's not because I'm an Aspie, I'm just full of random curiosity about things others don't think worth their attention. I need to remember not to keep asking questions - I have them because in the spur of the moment I can forget stuff, but it's stuff others think are basic knowledge - and that I'm a fool to ask it, to not know it. I need to keep quiet and look it up myself later. I need to keep working at appearing normal - just showcasing my conventional side at work to keep people comfortable.

There's already one person who I can tell disliked me from the start - but that's not my fault. They just gave me a very bad, glowering kind of feeling from the second I walked into the room, and it has only gotten worse the next 2 times I've seen him. One woman who has been so kind and conversational now thinks I'm naive and less worthy - she's kind of looking down on me. Another woman is starting to see what buttons she can push, how far she can push me - taking advantage of my niceness. It's one of those odd things, where being nice is interpreted as weakness and people like to take advantage.

I don't think it's too late to correct for these things if I move forward as professionally as possible. No more silliness (let them be that way when they are in the mood, and I can join in a little, but with restraint). No more letting them draw me away from my work. I am new. I still need to make a good impression. They may waste an hour chatting, but they have proven their worth - and I have not. They are sabotaging me, whether they mean to or not.

An interesting thing....everyone there hates our manager. It has taken some of the pressure off of me. I for one think that our manager may be an Aspie and is unaware of how he comes across. And he doesn't bother me one bit - not so far. I like him. And I would like to impress him, although everyone else refuses to give him any kind of chance, they just try to ignore him and always say negative things about him. So I'm going to keep him in mind as my true audience, keeping me focused on work, but polite and kind to my co-workers - basically, I want to be as professional as possible, that will be my defense at work. I am not socially savvy enough to navigate the social games that I have been introduced to now...I am socially blind, I operate through trial and error. I cannot afford to allow my co-workers to determine/discover through trial and error that I am incapable of playing social games - that is what marks you out as the ultimate target.

As much as I long for bonding and friendship, I need to remember - my NT co-workers are not my friends. They are not my tribe. My tribe is here. here is where I can post things without feeling like I am oversharing, receiving more understanding and not having weird social consequences. I need to remember that I have a tribe, and it is here - that keeps me from stumbling out amongst my coworkers like a social cripple. I cannot afford to have them view me as the butt of all jokes. The social games are what determine people's status on the social ladder, and many Aspies just don't play that game, which lands us down a the bottom. I don't want to be at the bottom, it is sheer misery - that is one of the main reasons why I would always burn out at other jobs and quit. I must aim high professionally and learn to be polite and kind professionally - professionalism is going to be key to my survival in the workplace, no matter how much my co-workers manage to goof off and still keep their acts together, I just can't do that...

Remembering that I am alien to NTs and that NTs are alien to me is actually very, very helpful - it reminds me that it's not what I think. What they want and need and intend are not what I think - it's usually different, and I am getting better at guessing at that rather than seeing from my own point of view only. When I remember this, I feel that I am among aliens at work...it's a bit weird, but very helpful - it keeps me from misstepping into trouble, and it keeps me from annoying other people. It helps me see the boundaries that I can be blind to sometimes, it helps me remember to act "appropriately" without losing myself in the process.

Comments

It helped me to read this because I am going through the same thing while trying to interact with others and trying to make friends. I like the idea of keeping in mind that I am alien to them and them to me, because this is how I have always felt....
 

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Ambi
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