Those with AS are widely regarded as having a high degree of integrity.
Among the adjectives which the Oxford Dictionary uses to define integrity are honesty and uprightness. It is generally accepted that people with AS display these attributes.
Related to this trait, is the “perception” of high morality, high values and a strong natural sense of justice among those people with Asperger. These facets are typically allied to a tendency to interpret things literally, meaning that judgements are less prejudicial insofar as they based more on fact, as opposed to, personal preferences and prejudices.
For someone with AS it means being less liable to act dishonestly or unethically. It may also mean passing judgement in this area on others from a strong sense and perspective of self-righteousness. The latter is important and involves a lower ability to discern the emotional or ulterior motives of others due to lesser “Emotional Intelligence”.
Merlevede, Bridoux & Vandamme define emotional intelligence as: “the complex whole of behaviours, capabilities (or competencies), beliefs and values which enable someone to successfully realize their vision and mission, given the context of this choice”.
However, Emotional Intelligence can be distinguished further between:
• Intrapersonal Intelligence
Determining the moods, feelings and other mental states in oneself and the way they affect our behaviour, altering (or managing) these states, self-motivation etc, and;
• Interpersonal or Social Intelligence
Recognizing emotions in others and using this information as a guide for behaviour, and for building and maintaining, relationships.
In other words, how a person with Asperger thinks, and how they perceive others, influences greatly their perception of values, honesty and integrity.
There are times when this can be incongruent with business conditions and circumstances.
Tony Attwood describes people with Asperger as being “honest to a fault”. In a business context, it can be a very hazardous one and, on certain occasions for someone with AS, it can, for a number of reasons, manifest itself problematically.
• Heightened Sense of Honesty, Integrity and Right & Wrong
An acute and heightened sense of what is right and wrong, and also, of justice. A pronounced level of honesty and integrity are something that people with AS will expect from others. However, that interpretation of honesty and integrity may not automatically be shared by them.
Many with AS will not accept, or come to terms easily or readily with, the fact that others may not automatically feel or display the same viewpoint or behaviour.
Generally those with AS may make insufficient effort to “mind read” or empathise with others. Neither do they take into account their values, perspectives or the situations that they have found themselves in. This can often be the catalyst for disagreement and, occasionally, conflict.
The importance of, and the implications of this, for someone with AS are explored in greater depth in the section on Empathy.
• Trying Too Hard to Please
Many feel a need – and want to be – liked and will feel uncomfortable if perceived that other people dislike or won’t accept them, partly due to a possible conscious feeling of being different. Those with AS want to be “accepted”.
There is a dislike of, and often an assiduous effort, to steer away from confrontation, even though where there are occasions when there is the need to face down an issue. This may lead to someone with AS assuming the blame for things that were, or were not entirely, their fault and being made a scapegoat.
There is also an uneasiness and discomfort with having to deal with disagreement or conflict with somebody if they are being less than honest. As a consequence, it is harder for a person with AS to communicate any disquiet.
• Emotional Response
Leading on from confrontation, is the – sometimes – typical response demonstrated when being confronted with an issue or a person believed, or perceived, to be unfair or lacking in integrity.
The subsequent response may be one of over reaction which can be counter-productive.
• Exercise Caution
Trusting people at face value is a dangerous practice in a business context. Third-parties will not always reciprocate the same level of honesty and integrity of someone with AS. What they expect to receive in return may differ, and they will sometimes also fail to reciprocate honestly in order to gain advantage at my expense of a third-party.
Openness towards people may at times sent signals that a person is unwilling to challenge someone who is not being frank of acting fairly. Such a response is typical of someone with Asperger.
• Factual Questioning
A tendency to trust, and expect integrity when dealing with others, based on personal outlook and not actual facts or evidence. The lower Asperger ability to empathise and discern the motivations of others can be a recipe at times for difficulties.
There are, however, a number of strategies that a manager with AS can deploy to improve performance in this area.