How can I best interact with this guy?
September 30, 2013 10:00 AM Subscribe
I have a teammate at work and I need to know how to make our working relationship more effective. He has trouble with social interaction and exhibits behaviors that I've often heard in discussions about Asperger/autism spectrum disorders, but more to the point, he has trouble with anger and I'm not sure how to respond to it. I understand that I can't be sure about my armchair diagnosis, but I don't need to know the cause of his behavior so long as I can find ways to work with him.
posted by anonymous to human relations (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've been on the job six months and he's been there for a little more than a decade. I've made the following observations about him and my more experienced colleagues have said described similar instances:
- He has a fairly rigid routine that he likes to follow (i.e. strict workday schedule, lunch at the same time everyday, etc.)
- He typically avoids eye contact
- During discussions, he will scoff at points he disagrees with and seems to make no effort to hide his doing so
- He has specific preferences about how he prefers to be communicated with (which are sometimes hard to anticipate)
- He can be curt or demeaning when talking to others
- He often has a specific way that he prefers work to be done and may take unilateral ownership of tasks, even if that may not be in the best interests of the team
- He shows his anger and frustration pretty openly. I haven't witnessed this as much, but I'm told of a few instances where he's shouted at others or made vicious, even frightening facial expressions
I've been doing a bit of research on what I can do to adapt. Here's what's worked for me so far:
- Listening actively and allowing him to explain in detail, even when I can anticipate what he's going to say
- Showing respect and appreciation when he offers explanations
- Making an effort to explain my thoughts in a detailed, linear way when talking to him
The superficial stuff — the lack of eye contact, the scoffing — doesn't particularly bother me. I mostly offer those examples in case they point to a specific behavioral issue that I can research. But his open displays of anger and the lack of ability to work well with others is impacting the team. He's a fast worker, he has quite a bit of domain knowledge, so let's assume that we'll continue to have to work together. (Let's also assume that escalating to management and/or HR are non-starters, unless you feel really strongly about those options.)
Do any of you have similar experiences or success stories? Do the symptoms I've mentioned, point to a specific behavioral issue that I can Google for more information? Any other recommendations?