The Key to Improving Relationships on the Job When You Have a Visual Impairment or Blindness

I find myself an observer of social behavior. I am inherently curious to note what makes relationships, personal or work related, flourish.

I notice some individuals are eager to feel validated by the esteem of others. They are driven to gain popularity and importance by showcasing their strengths and successes, ad nauseam. Additionally, these individuals often feel the need to continuously solicit sympathy by advertising every frustrating or painful experience.

This type of person comes across as self-absorbed. Regardless of whether this person thinks she is better than most or has a poor sense of self, she is acting self absorbed.

What is the key to relinquishing self absorption?

I believe it is empathy. Vicariously experiencing situations from others’ points of view can assist in growth and understanding.

What does this look like in real life?

  • Your sister receives a promotion. Instead of choosing jealousy or otherwise making the situation about yourself, put yourself in her shoes. You would be thrilled with a promotion. Understand she would want to hear excitement from you. Choose to let her know you are excited for her.
  • You arrive at a job interview with your guide dog. Put yourself in the shoes of the interview panel. They aren’t familiar with blindness and they do not know how you will perform on the job. Take the time to address their concerns.
  • You enjoy conversing with your coworkers. Consider if the conversations are usually about you. If they are, what are your coworkers likely thinking? Put yourself in their shoes. What if one of them only engaged in conversation about herself?
  • You work best with music playing. You are working at your cubicle and you know others can hear your playlist. How frustrating might that be for them? Consider using headphones or lowering the volume.
  • You feel uneasy talking with others because you are often at a loss of conversation topics. Think through (or ask if you don’t already know) the specific interests of others and learn more about them. Consider what they like to talk about and come prepared.

A friend, coworker, employer, or employee is far more likable when showing interest and concern for others instead of focusing solely on himself. The key to improving relationships is demonstrating empathy.

For specific communication tips, read CareerConnect’s Communication on the Job article. If you are a teacher or professional working with youth who are blind or visually impaired, utilize the Social Skills Lesson Series. There is a wealth of information found within APH CareerConnect’s sections; invest some time and it will surely pay off in the future.