Etiquette Guide for Autistic PoC in the Workplace

  1. Introduction
  • A guide for how autistic poc can keep our jobs (once we have them)
  • This guide is about survival, first and foremost, so some of the recommendations are possibly harmful (but hopefully less harmful than being unemployed).
  1. Socializing
    1. Honest is not the best policty
      • Lie. Lie all the time in response to pretty much anything. Overall, avoid telling people anything that could be perceived as ‘negative’.
      • Do not give out personal details about yourself, since they can (and likely will) be used against you.
      • Be positive. All the time.
    2. Disclosure and accommodation
      • Disclose only the minimal required info you need to actually work. No more. Even if this is harmful.
      • Avoid disclosing any self-diagnosed disabilities. While they are valid, this is a context where documentation does matter.
    3. Race related disclosures
      • I know this is weird, given that race is often visibly marked…
      • But at work, it is best to appear as white assimilated as you possibly can.
      • Inclusive of: eating ‘ethnic’ food at work. My dad absolutely has had colleagues complain about his ‘stinky’ pilipinx food.
      • If you have an accent… do your best to eliminate it. In some ways, this is actually more important than working on your vocabulary.
      • If you have an ‘ethnic’ name, think of a white-anglo nickname that you don’t hate.
    4. Become friends with coworkers.
      • Given the above, this is strange advice.
      • However, it is expected that you ‘socialize’ at work. Your ability to pretend to care about Debbie’s stamp collection will have a positive impact on how people evaluate you and your performance.
      • Also, become ‘friends’ while keeping the above in mind (ie, don’t be ‘ethnic’, don’t talk about disability, keep substantive personal details to a minimum).
  2. General Comporment
    1. Smile
      • People of colour, of any race, cannot get away with a neutral face.
      • Neutral face = hostile/unfriendly/distant/whatever.
      • Smile all the fucking time.
    2. ‘Active’ listening
      • Find a guide about what ‘active’ listening looks like, pick a few that you think you can incorporate into your scripts, and practice.
      • Depending on the advice, some of the ‘skills’ might have unintended benefits.
    3. Emotional labour
      • This is tied into the ‘become friends’ advice above.
      • However, do not expect this to be reciprocal.
      • Your white, allistic colleagues will expect you to do emotional labour without giving any in return.
    4. Don’t call anything out. Ever.
      • Remember, this is about survival. If you can help it, don’t call anything out. Do not. No one will thank you and you will be punished.
      • If the workplace is truly toxic, start to document everything before you make a complaint. Because they will not believe you otherwise.
      • Finding another job is usually an easier thing to do than to try and rehabilitate a toxic workplace.
  3. Know your limits
  • This isn’t an exhaustive list of how to behave. Just some of the things I’ve observed.
  • Doing this sustainably means picking the least harmful things and doing that.
  • But also not trying to do everything.
  • Remember this is about surviving. Try to find a balance between keeping your job and how much harm this is causing you.