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My boss has never taken the time to address concerns about my performance, until one day I expressed to him I had some confusion on my first assignment with big data. He told me then that he thinks that I have a learning disability.

It was soul crushing to hear. I’ve known of two particular coworkers who don’t favor me because of my inability to communicate due to my shyness. Mainly, the work I was doing for them was all administrative work and it was not challenging for me, but discouraging since I have longed for a technical role. I went to school for Computer Information Systems, and focused on cyber security, so doing admin work for a year was like digging my own grave...

My communication skills have improved now, and I no longer experience anxiety attacks when called upon during meetings.

My boss has paid a very expensive training for me, and had mentioned he plans to have me as a backup for our big data lead. The relationship I have with our big data lead is healthy, and I’m honestly happy working with our big data team.

I’m at a crossroads though, I don’t know if I should stay in this department. I think to myself, if my boss thinks I have a learning disability why should he push me towards a role in big data and pay training for me?

I plan to stay because I enjoy working with big data very much, but I start to lose my sanity when I think of what my boss told me, and whenever I have to deal with the other two particular coworkers I’ve had issues with, I still help them out with their work.

Any advice, leave or hang on?

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    “Big data” is one of the fastest growing areas in tech right now. If that’s your only reason for staying, you should have no problem finding another job in the field. And without a boss who’s causing you psychological harm. – AffableAmbler Jun 11 at 1:23
  • Thank you, I think you have gotten me out of my doubts. – Zara Z. Jun 11 at 2:42
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    I think this is common in IT - employees get pushed into roles based on business needs where the might not perform all that well or might not enjoy the work. Sounds like instead of leaving you stuck in admin role your boss is pushing you into big data. You have to decide if your can do well in this new role and if you enjoy it. – Brian Jun 17 at 13:05
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You didn't mention if this was a one-time comment from your boss or if they repeatedly make comments about a learning disability, for this answers sake, I will assume it was a one-time comment.

Addressing your Boss' Comment

Your boss was 100% out of line to insinuate that you may have a learning disability. If you feel comfortable speaking with your boss, privately let him know that the comment bothered you. If that is not an option, you can also raise it to HR. This was an inappropriate comment and making you fear your future at the company and possibly how you will be evaluated in performance reviews. If something happens later (bad rating, etc.) that is tied to a "learning disability", HR will have it on record that you logged a complaint and you'll have backing to justify your position.

Moving Forward

This may have been a one-time lapse in judgement by your boss that they didn't really mean. They have faith in your potential otherwise they would not invest the time and money into training and coaching. If you boss is pushing you into a lead role, it is because they believe you can do it. Everyone says things they regret or don't mean. This doesn't make it ok, but the actions afterwards illustrate a boss that cares about your development.

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  • I can’t believe it myself, but yes my boss did tell me he thinks I have a learning disability. Although, he seems to be investing in me to push me for a role in big data, at times I feel disheartened by my boss’s opinion or what he said, that maybe know he may have regretted or not. I have not addressed him on the comment, but did let him know that I know of my capabilities... – Zara Z. Jun 18 at 14:57

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