I have the great privilege to often work with highly functional people delivering sessions as a small team. The pleasure and value of working in a such a team is hard to over estimate.
There are no ego struggles or tantrums. Conflicts and issues are dealt with quickly and kindly. We are interested in each other and willing to learn and to teach. Feedback is given regularly and supportively, and taken confidently and acted upon. Although we usually have some sort of formal leader, there is little sense of hierarchy with everyone getting to lead with the support of others on their strengths or turn and quickly shifting to follow another on their strength or turn.
The results are that everyone gets to perform at their best, there is minimal stress and a lot of fun, while the job gets done very effectively.
Not all work (family or social) environments are as fruitful or fun.
We often experience ego struggles, passive aggression, unspoken conflicts, destructive competition and insecurity, even in managers and leaders.
How should we respond to these challenges and why and how might we seek to change things?
When we find ourselves in uncomfortable or stressful situations the first thing to do is to admit that we might be part of the problem. Most conflict type situations are co-created, even if we feel they are clearly initiated by one individual they cannot escalate without the active or passive participation of others.
With admission of participation comes responsibility and with responsibility comes the opportunity to change the situation.
Like any disease (dis-ease) the next step is some sort of diagnosis, understanding the problem helps you to find the right tools and approaches to solve it.
And for most of us this means learning. Except for fortunate few there was an implicit assumption in our upbringing and education that all this human relationship stuff comes naturally or is not important
It doesn’t and it is.
A lot of very clever psychologists and others have had to work hard to understand the infinite complexities and variations of human behaviour and interaction.
There is absolutely no reason to expect that people will just pick it up naturally and it is incredibly important to our wellbeing, our effectiveness and our happiness.
With our acceptance of responsibility and our acceptance that we do not already know the answer we become open to learning and the place we need to start is with ourselves. We cannot even begin to guide others until we have a reasonable depth of self knowledge and awareness.
Those clever psychologists and others have been kind enough to publish books and tools to help us work these things out. We can learn empirically, from books, from coaching, courses and from personality profiling tools.
Most of us like to talk about ourselves, learning about ourself is this to the max. If we can overcome any fears around it, it is fascinating and fun. We can sleuth around like a detective in our own personality to discover why we repeat the same patterns or experience particular feelings, and how to change them.
Very often the change in our response is enough to dramatically alter and improve the situation that first attracted us to this path, without any need to deliberately act to influence the others.
However, once we embark on the journey of self discovery it is difficult to stop and there are always opportunities to introduce others to their potential too. Whether we choose to act directly or indirectly, we can also help colleagues, friends and family to find answers to their questions too. In most circumstances self discovery cannot (and should not) be imposed, the exception is in a team development environment, where a manager might introduce the idea of self development via team development in a supportive way.
One note of caution is that embarking on your journey can put a distance between you and those around you who don’t embark on a similar journey. As we discover ourselves and become more clear in our tastes and behaviours we can find ourselves alienated from those we once considered close, unless they can be persuaded to make the journey as well.
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