Can corporate America accommodate people with social skills deficit?
Well, yes, but how? Companies have cultures. Some may be easier for people with social skills deficits than others. As the employee what is your role? What is the managers role? There are no easy answers ,and it depends on the job. It’s a lot easier to be in corporate America if you are an IT, accounting, managing inventory, or have a skilled based jobs as opposed to sales or management. Let’s face it there are no apparently stated rules regarding social skills in corporations, but there are many unstated rules along with the understanding that you will get along with others and do your job. We all know when it comes to working, the company culture can make or break the job.
A social skills deficit means you have difficulty interpreting and using social language, diagnoses that include social skills deficit include autism, social skills deficit, and ADHD. Historically social skills have been taught through family and social interactions, but for many, these informal modes of learning are not enough. In addition, it is becoming increasingly clear in our society that learning to cooperate and work together takes more than informal training. Look at the state of our politics! Social skills does not just involve being agreeable in a group, but requires understanding others perspective and having the ability to tolerate differences. We are seeing in real time increasingly that the rules regarding social skills are often dominated by one primary group while all other groups must conform to that group’s expectation. These unstated rules make it difficult to navigate corporate culture.
All jobs require that you get along and communicate effectively with co-workers and the boss(es), be responsible and respectful, but if you have major weaknesses in social skills, figuring out the unwritten rules of the company culture can feel impossible. Even for those with no disability in social skills this task is daunting. Do you have lunch alone everyday to recover from the days interaction or have lunch with the group? If you regularly have lunch alone you are missing out on the company gossip which can tell you about upcoming layoffs and other potential arising problems. How do you find a mentor to help you navigate the social arena? Looking for someone with better social skills, and asking directly for help can be one a useful strategy. Although companies have some accommodations, due to ADA( Americans with Disability Act), the burden continues to mostly fall on the individual to adjust to the corporate culture. Unfortunately navigating the social landscape at many corporate jobs continues to fall heavily on the worker.
Acceptance in a corporation has a lot to do with the companies tolerance for differences, the skills brought to the company by the employee, the ability to adjust to request for change and the effectiveness in self advocating. Not all companies are the same. Remember that corporate America is interested in the bottom line, money; not in taking care of it’s employees. Self care is up to each employee, so you have to be willing to try and learn even if you will never meet the expectations of others.
What company you work for will also make a huge difference. Before you apply for a job, look at the company’s culture: do they have other employees with disabilities? What is the level of diversity at the company? Does the company have any flexibility in how you work, example do you have the option of working from home or a hybrid model. If you apply to a company that values diversity, is flexible around where you are allowed to work, has generous, policies around requesting time off for illness or vacation you will find they are more likely to accept and value all types of people including those with social skills deficits.