"If you don't have the right environment, you will fail," said Helen Boden, former CEO of the British Dyslexia Association.
There is so much power in Helen's words. Both at work and home, the right environment can make or break the amount of success you can achieve.
We want to discuss what makes a good environment, the accommodations you should ask for, management styles, and interview red flags. Most of this is focused on work but can be for the home.
What is a good work environment:
A good work environment decreases your stress and anxiety around your dyslexia. When we feel stressed and anxious, it makes our dyslexia worse (more on that in another blog). We want a work setting that supports you. Things like...
Having a manager/coworker who checks your work with our judgment
Being allowed to amend tasks in a way that will enable you to thrive
No micromanagement from anyone
Having a team/boss that provides positive enforcement rather than criticism.
A workload and tasks that don't overwhelm you
Your boss seeing your value and putting your challenges into perspective
Accommodations you should ask for:
There are tones of tech-based tools that can help, but today we want to talk through some other kinds of help!
Working from home (this is amazing if you are easily distracted at the office and allows you to take as many breaks as you need)
Being allowed to use headphones (try noise-canceling headphones)
Working in meeting rooms or places with large whiteboards (so you can spread out your work and see everything)
2 screens for your computer (more space to see everything you are working on)
Being given instructions both verbally and written (helps our working memory and stops us from missing things)
Management styles you should look for:
Every manager is different, and that is a real pain. Here are some things to look for in a manager that will make your dyslexia shine rather than be negative.
A boss who knows what dyslexia is (we mean really knows not just "that's where you read backward, right")
They do not micromanage!
They help point out your strengths and weaknesses gently and positively.
A manager who changes your role to allow your dyslexia to shine.
They get rid of super strict time requirements.
Interview Red Flags:
We know not everyone has the luxury of getting a new job every month, so we wanted to highlight some interview red flags. If you see any of these, this work environment is probably not good for you.
Ask how many managers the role has had in the past two years. If it is more than 2, be on alert.
Find out why the role is open and how many times it has been available in the past 2 years.
Ask about the company culture- is it a "work hard, play hard" or "competitive" atmosphere? If so, the job is probably not for us.
Tell the interviewer you have dyslexia, then wait for their reaction. If they say, "OH THAT'S OK, WE HAVE SPELL CHECK," RUN! You will have an uphill battle teaching them about dyslexia and the proper accommodations.
Remember, you are amazing. There is no reason to live or work in an environment where you sell yourself short or ignore your value. Protecting your environment will preserve your mental health and confidence. Being dyslexic does not mean you are dumb!