You and Your Physical Disability: How to Succeed at Work
Having a physical disability can make finding a dream job tough. Particularly if the workplace isn’t sure how to accommodate you or you’re unsure how to advocate for yourself.
Still, you might be surprised to know that the key to meeting your needs and your workplace isn’t avoidance but clarity and cooperation on both sides. Learning to consider your needs a vital part of their productivity is important. Once accommodated, your value to them will make itself clear. Consider the following strategies on the path to a viable, valuable work experience.
Come into the Workplace Communicating Clearly
Consider the transition into your job and the opportunity to be heard and speak plainly. All for the sake of creating a good fit and establishing a strong set of working relationships. Communicate that you realize that you know your workplace is not all about you but that you simply want to develop an agreement based on respecting each other’s needs.
You can do this by confidently acknowledging that you were hired because you’re capable and willing to work. Make sure any accommodations you and your employer have agreed upon are part of your work agreement or contract.
Arrange your transportation and daily needs before your first day if you can. Also, if you need to make changes, share those needs verbally and in writing. Consider a trial day to see that your accommodations work well.
Develop Key Strategies to Secure Your Own Success
Establish work/life balance early
It can be tough to find a great job when you’re disabled. Once you’ve got one you may want to prove yourself day and night. You may take on too much just because it feels so good to use your talents. Or you could simply enjoy the feeling of being part of a team or a world once closed off to you. Still, be careful. Burnout and exhaustion can quickly turn work sour and ruin your health. Set a pace for long-term success and leave space for rest and relaxation.
Pool and use your resources
Accessing the resources available to you can make work-life much less stressful. Spending a good amount of time connecting with your HR department, an employee assistance program director, or other such advisors can make all the difference. However don’t stop there, look into supports built into your community and the surrounding neighborhood. Create a connected professional or occupational life you can feel secure about.
Build a social network
Worklife is not just doing the work. Do your best to find peers, seek mentors, and build coffee-break friendships. Allies are a good thing when you need them. Social connections can make long days better.
Be prepared to educate your workplace partners
Sometimes, to promote a healthy environment, you’ll need to address stereotypes, field questions, and correct certain misinformation. If you don’t do so directly, you might need to do so through an advocate. As always, be prepared to work with others to secure a mentally and physically comfortable space and relationship with coworkers.
Show them how you manage your disability. Share your preferences just as they share theirs. Be clear that you are an equal participant in your world at work. Talk about the help you need an
and the help you don’t. You may find you’re all more comfortable afterward.
Get Comfortable Voicing Your Concerns
There will be days that you’ll be disrespected, dismissed, or disregarded. Your ability to succeed, even perform at all, will be second-guessed in ways you should not overlook. What then? At work, it’s vital that you choose the time and frequency of your response to such incidents prudently. But do parse out how you can effectively deal with the situation and do so.
When it comes down to it, your situation is unique to you. As with any person that has specific needs, you’ll have to gauge what’s possible in your workplace, what’s a priority, and how sound your relationships are with the people there. Do your best to be open and cooperative while staying firm in your resolve to create a safe, solution-based way forward.
You know you can manage life and your own success when you have a proper chance. Half the battle is laying the groundwork, establishing the support, and maintaining a positive, resilient mindset. Let us be part of the resources that help foster the environment you need mentally, emotionally, and occupationally. I’m here for you. Please read more about therapy for adults with disabilities and reach out soon for a consultation.