Skip to main content
Approaching a conversation with a colleague regarding any medical condition can be challenging – knowing what to say, when to say it, and how to say it isn’t always easy.

But with the right tools, knowledge and awareness, managers can confidently approach conversations about neurodiversity and provide colleagues with the support they need. Here are some of our tips:

Choose a setting – find a private, neutral space (outside the workplace if needed) free from interruptions and distractions, and clear your diary to make time so you don’t appear rushed. Keep your body language open and non-confrontational – remember that some neurodivergent individuals may find it difficult to read ‘typical’ social cues.

What to say – ensure you’re able to actively listen to what the individual is sharing. Ask open questions to encourage discussion and avoid making assumptions or comparisons with your own experiences (unless you have the same condition, of course). Following a clear agenda for the conversation will help to keep you on track. We have one in our toolkit.

Objectivity – be aware of their feelings and experiences, even if they differ from yours. Avoid your own expectations entering the conversation of how they could be dealing with their neurodiversity.

Support rather than solutions – be knowledgeable about sources of support that are available (EAP, charities etc.) and know who to signpost them to if needed. Encourage individuals to share what might help them with their neurodiversity instead of jumping to solutions that may not be appropriate.

Keep an open dialogue – agree and diary when you’re next going to check in, and agree on what they may want to share with their team about any changes being made. If an individual is off sick, stay in touch and carry out a return-to-work meeting when they return.

Record – keep a written record and notes of conversations (including dates, times and what was discussed). An accurate paper trail is vital if you need to rely on your records in the future.

We have everything your managers need to approach conversations with confidence in our new ‘Neurodiversity Toolkit’ – see what’s included. 
This update is accurate on the date it was published, but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.