When we are interviewing someone for a job and the interviewer is speaking French, but the interviewee is speaking Spanish, who has the deficit in communication? What if the employer is communicating through sign language but the employee does not understand sign language, who then has the communication deficit?
In each of these cases, there is not a communication deficit, but there is a difference in communication style. Neither communication style is superior to the other, although I am sure some would argue they are. In order to communicate effectively these differences, have to be acknowledged and strategies implemented to mediate a middle ground of communication. Let us take for example multi-nation meetings, headphones are used to translate one language into another to include everyone from all over the world. How successful do you think these meetings would be if one country demanded their language was the best and everyone had to communicate in it, regardless of their ability to do so?!
While there are many similarities with the way autistic and non autistic people communicate, there is are also some distinct differences. For me, the key difference is clarity of expression.
The language of autism does not communicate in hidden meanings and vague expressions like other languages do, we communicate in specifics and details. This simple difference can cause so many problems when it comes to employability.
As an example, I want to reflect on a recent job interview. I found a job advertised on a popular webpage and the title of the job reflected the areas I wished to pursue as a career. I downloaded the job description and personal specification to build a picture of what the job entailed. And as a result of that….. I still had no real picture of what the job would look like in practice. When we think of communication we always think of talking, but the differences in languages are just as prevalent in written form. And this job description was clearly written in a different language than mine!
The list of ‘main responsibilities’ were vague, unspecific and wide ranging. Needless to say, the 31 different bullet points in the list of ‘main responsibilities’ did not help me understand what job I was applying for.
Now I know many would argue that the job description needs to be vague in order to ‘cover all bases’ but for me it significantly increased may already high-end levels of anxiety as I went into the job interview.
Firstly, because I knew at the end of the interview I may be asked if I still wanted the job, I didn’t know how to know if I did or not! And secondly, how