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Should I not indulge special interests?

Discussion in 'Help and Support' started by DavidH, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. DavidH

    DavidH Active Member

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    I only recently became aware of "special interests" and autism recently.

    I did not realize that I was encouraging these special interests. I have one employee who I have had issues not spending an hour in my office talking about his special interest and didn't realize he had Asperger's until recently so I couldn't figure out why he wasn't getting the hint that I couldn't talk endlessly about technology even though that is our business.

    For the other we have a common interest but I didn't realize that for me it is a hobby and for her it is a focus.

    Is it supportive to let them talk or is indulging something I should avoid? In the first case it is kind of his job and it has some potential synergy but with my work schedule an hour long discussion can mean I end up in the office an hour later. In the second case I love having a common interest but not sure I am helping her focus on being better at her job and career.
     
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  2. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    Just put limits on it. You can express appreciation of a person's intense interest without wasting an hour.

    NEVER expect an ASD employee to take a hint. We're really bad at that! Be direct. "I wish we had more time to talk about this, but I have to get back to work." etc.
     
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  3. Aspychata

    Aspychata My Art Work

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    Another nice way- is as much as l love talking about this, l have a huge job l have to finish. Maybe to the lady, you can tell her directly, this is purely a hobby of mine but l can tell you are very passionate about this. Are there special interest groups you could hook up with online to foster this? Just gently letting them down. We defintely hyper-focus and we understand if you aren't like that. I think it's great you are trying to get at their level. You must be a great boss!
     
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  4. DavidH

    DavidH Active Member

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    Had I known sooner he had Asperger's I could have dealt with it a long time ago. Appreciate the suggestion. I want to walk a fine line here because he has great ideas and our discussions have helped him refine some of our software but I do need to find ways to cut him off in a supportive way.

    I'm doing the things I think leaders should do. We're about to have some tough conversations at our office. I think I should be average. I think there are just so many self-involved and poor leaders that people like me look really good in comparison. My direct leadership team is pretty good but some of the managers reporting to my peers either need to change or be demoted.
     
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  5. TheSaltyStray

    TheSaltyStray Member

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    We all know what it is like to have someone squelch the fires of interest so approach her/him with compassion. "I love that you trust me to share something you are so passionate about. I enjoy our conversations but I really need more time to focus on what I am responsible for and tasked with. We will carve out more appropriate time another day and time to elaborate on this. Thank you for sharing with me and in the mean time, apply what you can of your knowledge to drive yourself forward with this passion. I can see and hear it is very important to you."
     
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  6. onlything

    onlything Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    The suggestion of 'having a huge job' seems like a good idea. Maybe you could end it by saying that you appreciate his ideas and would be delighted to talk about or read them later if he had any additional suggestions? Or maybe you could set up a time in your office when your coworkers could come to speak of issues/interesting things/solutions they found out? Or possibly set up a short (maybe regular?) meeting with them during a coffee break?

    Talking is great and you feel really appreciated when your boss takes interest in your interest but we still have to remember that it's a job and you shouldn't have to stay longer because someone wanted to talk to you.
     
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  7. Juliettaa

    Juliettaa Black Sheep. Society of One. V.I.P Member

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    How about cutting the informal chats down completely but offering an alternative - a structured/planned meeting/brain storming session?

    Ask the person to make notes/prep for the meeting and to present their ideas/suggestions within a set time frame. That way, he gets to offload/talk about his special interest and you get updated on his ideas with a view to taking them forward, if appropriate.
     
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  8. zurb

    zurb Eschewer of Obfuscation

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    As aspies we want to do it now. But now may not be convenient for others.
    Consider asking for it to be emailed. Aspies often communicate better in written format anyway, and it may actually help to resolve any issues as they think through what they write. It means they can get it out of their system now, but you can respond when convenient.
     
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  9. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I'm a teacher and I have a student, though not diagnosed with ASD (as as far as I know), who has very definite fixations, which interfere with his tuition in that he thinks about them all the time, or wants to talk about them, and he finds it hard to focus on the lesson. First video games, of which I have little knowledge or interest, and now making YouTube videos.

    I need to make some rules for him. He gets to talk about his video games in the last five minutes of the lesson and five minutes in between, but he mustn't interupt a task to start talking about them. Things can get difficult if the student also has ADHD, but I don't think he has that (?). I think that such rules are fair and a good compromise between satisfying the student's drive to talk about the hobbies, and my needs as a teacher to keep the student on task.

    Something similar could work in the workplace - have some guidelines for the employees that, for example, it's ok to talk about them during the breaks, but during the work period they need to stay focused on the task at hand. As others have said, you need to be direct, don't leave hints and expect them to be picked up on. With that student I mentioned, I had to be direct and let him know that it's not ok to interupt a task to talk about video games, he needs to finish the task first and then talk. You could tell the employees that you don't want to talk about X until the break, or that now is not a good time, later is ok.
     
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