Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Wanted: NT That Understands Aspies!

It's difficult enough navigating the social world on a daily basis.  Add a corporate office component and it becomes exponentially more difficult.  At least that's how I feel after today.

A few months ago, I was given feedback that I'm too close to "the staff."  That's a really interesting bit of feedback considering relationships are extremely difficult for me.  Initially, I was upset by this feedback.  But over time, I've taken that feedback as a compliment.  Imagine!  Real live NTs think I have developed personal relationships with "the staff."  I've come so far since the days where feedback took the form of, "you need to talk to people face to face more.  You send too many emails."  My therapist would be proud!

Unfortunately, this is where it gets confusing.  The hierarchy in the company for which I work is similar to many corporations.  Associate --> Manager --> Senior Manager --> Associate Vice President --> Vice President --> Senior Vice President --> President.  I'm an Associate Vice President.

Today, a Manager invited me and some other Managers / Sr. Managers (male and female) up to her cabin for half a day to hang out and go sailing.  Under "normal" circumstances, I would have accepted the offer based on a piece of advice my therapist gave me --- try to go to as many social events as you can tolerate, you could use more friends in your life.  But when the Manager asked me, I remembered the piece of feedback about being too close to the staff and didn't know what to do.

On the one hand, I wanted to go and feel flattered that they would invite me.  On the other hand, if leadership found out, they would perceive it differently.  More specifially, leadership operates under the assumption that I am actually friends with these individuals and wouldn't be able to separate our friendship and decisions around their performance on the job. OMG.  If only they knew!  I have Aspergers!  I've been working with my therapist for years on being more friendly and engaging in the workplace, so that people don't hate me and my cold, rigid leadership style.

What's worse is that nobody will give me a straight answer on this.  I ask one person and he feels bad that he wasn't invited.  I ask a second person and he SAYS its perfectly fine, but his body language is saying something different.  I'm not asking for emotional support and validation!  I want a REAL answer!

I know I can't go to the cabin with the Managers and Sr Managers.  The rule I have deduced from the feedback of being "too close" to the staff is that I am not allowed to go to events outside of office hours with individuals that are a lower level than me and work in my department unless it is a company sponsored event.  That's quite a rule!

The thing I don't understand is why this rule applies.  I have observed many times an Associate Vice President (in the same department) golfing with a Senior Vice President and his son outside of office hours.  Maybe its because I'm a girl?  Or maybe its because golfing is the exception?  Or maybe public locations are OK, but not private property?  I have no idea!  The Corporate NT world is SO confusing.

Someday, I hope to meet an NT that will give me a glimpse into this confusing world.  And maybe, just maybe, he or she will give me real answers to my questions.  If only they offered the class:  Socially Navigating the Corporate Environment for Aspies.  Now that would be the perfect class for me!