Coping with social challenges

Socialising in the workplace and why it isn’t for everyone…

I like working to a clear structure. Having a set routine. Succinct and timely communication. I crave familiarity. Some good old-fashioned sameness. All within an environment that isn’t too loud, bright, nor has any strong smells. And that’s enough for me. This is exhausting and challenging enough

Because asides from all that the office environment can throw up, in addition to the socialising from being around other people all day, I don’t want to then socialise with my colleagues regularly outside of work. Once in a while, OK, fine. The odd lunch, great. But when it’s a regular occurrence derived around the notion of fun, bonding and getting to know your colleagues better, then you really need to understand that ‘fun’ is a highly subjective noun. And simply not for everyone.

What may be a simple few drinks in a bar after work with colleagues, can in fact be hugely energy depriving for me

I sound like a real bore? Maybe. But there are enormous sensory issues that I experience when in a bar; from the volume, smells of the place, to the social etiquette of how to behave – and then having to translate this into how it works from a team outing perspective. Each occasion calls for new rules to process; for instance in terms of how to order drinks, sit, move about and speak with different people. I have a set of rules that I have learned for each social scenario, and as an autistic person, it takes a lot for me to ‘switch’ into a new set – and especially with the rules I don’t regularly use.

There are also more social challenges, as you’re surrounded by increased conversation, and have to work doubly hard to decipher meanings and to pick up on sarcasm and jokes – which tends to be used more in social si