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Creating Open Doors: How Managers Can Spark Conversations on Neurodiversity

Building a truly inclusive workplace requires understanding and celebrating the unique strengths of a neurodiverse workforce. But how do managers initiate conversations about neurodiversity with their employees in a way that feels supportive and compassionate, especially if the employee hasn't disclosed that they are Neurodivergent?


Cultivating a Safe Space


The foundation for any successful conversation is trust. Here's how to create a safe space for your employees, which is crucial for encouraging them to come forward about their neurodiversity:


Lead by Example:


Openly discuss your own learning journey regarding neurodiversity. This shows vulnerability and encourages open communication.


Confidentiality is Key:


Assure employees that any information they share will be kept confidential, within legal boundaries.


Normalise the Conversation:


Frame neurodiversity as a spectrum of strengths and differences, not limitations.


Psychological Safety Matters:


Emphasise that the workplace is a judgment-free zone where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities. This fosters trust and encourages employees to share their experiences without fear of reprisal.


Starting the Conversation: Subtle Openings


While directly mentioning neurodiversity might not be the smoothest entry point, you can initiate a conversation that creates space for disclosure:


Focus on Strengths:


Highlight the unique skills and approaches your employee brings to the table. Say something like, "I appreciate your detail-oriented approach to your work. Is there a specific way we can leverage this strength further?"


Celebrate Differences:


Acknowledge that everyone works differently. You could say, "I've noticed you prefer written communication for complex tasks. Is this something that works well for you?" This opens the door for them to discuss their preferred work styles.


Offer Support:


Let them know you're there to help them succeed. Phrases like, "How can I best support you in achieving your goals?" show your commitment to their well-being.




Respect Boundaries:


The employee may not be ready to disclose their neurodiversity. Don't pressure them.


Focus on Solutions:


If challenges are identified, explore potential solutions together, creating an environment where they feel comfortable seeking support in the future.


Follow Up:


Schedule regular check-ins to see how things are going and make adjustments if needed.


Additional Resources


Consider providing employees with resources on neurodiversity, such as articles, neurodiversity awareness training, or employee resource groups such as neurodiversity ambassador training.


By fostering open communication, creating a supportive environment, and using these subtle conversation starters, managers can unlock the full potential of a neurodiverse workforce.


Remember: This is an on-going process.  Be patient, celebrate small wins, and continuously seek to learn and improve.


If you are interested in learning how JJC can help you with neurodiversity training please email:


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