Update: I would otherwise delete this but it has been answered by others.

I want to know if the following is on-topic for the non-meta area of engineering.

I know it is wordy, and I will try and whittle it down and clean it up. Is the fundamental content allowable and appropriate?

Personally I would consider this about the engineering profession, and thus as professionalism is on topic.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with Aspergers. There is a lot of baggage around that term, and people have looked down on me for it. I have had people who I respect say "you will never understand that -social- thing". I can understand lots of things. It is scary to admit that in a public and recorded forum like this. Some people look at me like I am made of poop because I am different than them in terms of neuro-diversity.

I wish that I could ask it anonymously, so my coworkers who haven't had the opportunity to look down on me for my label aren't given a chance here. This is why the label is a bit obtuse. I strongly suspect company HR departments sometimes review keywords of online postings of their staff because when I tried asking on Yahoo answers about how to handle what looked like inappropriate behavior of a 2nd level manager of mine toward an intern, the man was called in to HR and interviewed the next day, and the time-correlation was surprisingly high.

I am an engineer with a Bachelor (Cum Laude 2007) and Master of Science (2012) in Mechanical Engineering, who has been working professionally for a decade. Before my degree I worked in an engineer-support (engineers assistant) or engineering-lite (drafting) capacity since about 1998, so I have been "in that office of the company" for around 20 years.

My annual review has several parts, including "development goals" at the end. These are more fuzzy/qualitative and two keyword areas of weakness of mine are social. After the hour-long one-on-one on the other 3 pages of engineering the S.M.A.R.T. metrics and deliverable timing for the rest of this year, we ended up on that 4-line table with those words. I let him explain them, and tried to explain back. I asked for examples, possibly of fictional characters that would give me hooks into what they were asking.

The absolute best understanding that I have at this point is that two of them directly engage parts of my "'burgers" driven behavior. They aren't articulating it as explicitly about that, but they can't find a clear alternative. For what it's worth, those two are "communicates effectively" - to a non-technical audience, and my problem: "instills trust".

I have asked "is this like marketing or sales: trying to be able to convince someone to buy something they wouldn't have otherwise have wanted"? No. "Is this communicating technical ideas to a non-technical audience"? No, that was "communicates effectively", and though they are related, they are distinct. I kept asking, and the best that I get is "for people who tend to natively distrust all things math and statistics, be able to communicate technical justifications outside of those terms", which is a contradiction of terms: it is technical because of the math. To clarify it, I asked about "quality" which has stats, and was told not those kids of statistics, which they trust. I asked and asked for examples, and they can only say that instills trust isn't "communicates effectively" but they are tied together, and speak to the same underlying "weakness". I asked "is there any chance this is the east-coast culture vs. west-coast culture, because Silicon Valley has a bit of hippy which is counter cultural to "suit-wearing" east coast, and part of that might be that it damages credibility" and was told it wasn't a cultural difference, or about credibility in that sense.

I might be misinterpreting it, but I have invested a fair bit of time trying to get to the bottom of understanding it.

This is my best understanding. I think they are saying "when you have an 'episode', which often comes out under stress or when I am tired, and you can't control verbal cadence and tones, eye-contact, posture, or such, then find a way to act like you can".

How am I to respond, as a working and degreed engineer, to this?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with Wasabi, but in addition you need to clean up how you are asking. This is way too rambling. Even though I did read all of it, it is still confusing what exactly your question is or the problem is you are describing. I'm not sure how relevant it is, but remember that in the end, a company is paying you for certain results. It's really not their business why you can or can not deliver those results. Either your work product makes the expense to keep you around worth it or it doesn't. Whether you have a extra toe, Aspergers, gray hair, or blue eyes is irrelevant. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ I am outstanding in my delivery of results. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 23:05

1 Answer 1


I find this question to be important, but not on-topic for this site. Also, you'd probably get more qualified advice at another SE, namely The Workplace.SE or Interpersonal Skills.SE.

Hope they can answer your question adequately.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would vote for Workplace as I think this is very much on-topic for that site. $\endgroup$
    – user16
    Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the pointer. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 3:46

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