My colleagues can perform a few office tasks that take me longer to complete due to my disabilities. Not being able to do some things expected of other employees can often feel embarrassing. Everyone wants to feel competent at work, so when a disability gets in the way of completing tasks, it is frustrating, You cannot change your disability, but two solutions seem to have made a positive impact on my own self-image and self-confidence in the workplace.
Just to put my example in perspective: I work with four other individuals who have exactly the same professional responsibilities. Although my colleagues and I sometimes interact and cooperate, most tasks are completed independently of one another. Thus, I manage my own time and can plan my day in my own way to maximize effectiveness.
My primary goal is to figure out ways of completing tasks without having to ask for help. Sometimes I may need to ask for assistance, but I make sure to exhaust all possible alternatives before I put myself in a situation where I am waiting on others to be available to help me. I like being independent, so taking a few moments to figure out an alternative solution that fits my needs is worth my attention.
However, by taking the time to find creative ways of completing tasks on my own, I might, unlike my colleagues, need to use up some precious extra time. How am I supposed to keep up with my colleagues if they do not have to worry about making adaptations for themselves? Sometimes I do not keep up. For example, I definitely do not type as fast as some of my colleagues (though I guarantee I am a better writer).
I need to be aware of the negatives, though my real focus is on building an equal number of positives, and hopefully more, to compensate. I know I am a problem solver who is willing to take chances and cooperative with the collaborative process. In addition, I have observed my colleagues over time to learn more about their skills so that I could strategically gain skills in useful areas that others could not provide. I picked an information niche and I am now a go-to colleague for topic specific information.
- I make sure I am maintaining as much independence as possible so that I do not have to experience the guilt and embarrassment of needing assistance. I only ask for help when I am absolutely certain I cannot find a way to do something on my own.
- I make sure I stay relevant and useful in ways my colleagues and peers cannot fulfill so that I can feel confident I am contributing to my workplace by offering a unique knowledge base or skill set.