As members of any team, we need to think carefully about the things we not only say about each other but the things we think about each other. Can we control our thoughts? Sure we can … but it’s not easy. The problem is that negative thoughts about others, even if not voiced aloud, will poison our attitudes toward others and destroy our ability to function as a team. Change your thoughts and you just might change your world.
One big question is how do we react when we get frustrated with a co-worker? Do we lash out in anger? Bad idea. Do we bad-mouth them to others? Again, bad idea. Do we keep our anger inside, poisoning our thoughts and attitudes? Again, bad idea. None of those things is restorative nor team-enhancing.
The first step to think about when finding yourself frustrated with someone else is whether your thoughts are realistic. Do you know the whole story? Are you perhaps letting your frustration with another part of your life boil over so that it is directed at someone else? Can you put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective? Is the thing you’re upset about really any of your business at all when it gets right down to it?
Here are some examples:
Ever get upset with a co-worker over their poor attendance? Realistically, this is an issue between them and their supervisor. If you feel a need to call it to the attention of their supervisor, please do so. But keep in mind that, despite the importance of good attendance to teamwork, we can all have things happen in our lives which affect our attendance. It may be someone else this time but it may be you next time.
Ever see a newer co-worker doing something wrong? You could go bad-mouth them to your co-workers or your supervisor … or you can come alongside them and pleasantly say “Here, let me help you with that.” Which is more productive? Which is more conducive to successful teamwork?
Have you ever seen your employer hire someone that perhaps you knew in the past and have ill feelings toward? What sense does it make to allow that to poison your relationship today? We all have things in our past we aren’t proud of. Fortunately, we all change and develop and grow (no jokes about my weight, please) over time. Start with a clean slate. Build a productive relationship. This person is probably nowhere near the person you once knew – and neither are you!
Ever question a co-worker’s judgment or behavior? There are lots of negative ways you can deal with that or you can go enter into a pleasant conversation with them and ask them questions to draw out why they are doing what they’re doing. You don’t have to say “Hey, ya big dummy, you should be doing it that way!” You can instead ask questions about what they’re doing. Maybe you’ll come to understand that their judgment or behavior isn’t all that “off” after all. Or, you can say “Have you ever thought about … (doing it this way … or from this perspective?)” Politely ask questions to understand their perspective and then, if still appropriate, present them with some other options for their consideration.
Ever have a co-worker come up to you in an accusatory manner? How did you react? Defensively or with anger? Or did you calmly ask them to explain their side of the issue so that you can understand what they’re saying. Sometimes, if someone puts us on the defensive, we hang onto wrong thoughts and ideas just to avoid saying “Gosh, you’re right. I’m sorry.” That’s not healthy.
Ever have a co-worker step onto your “turf” or do something you normally do? How did you react? With anger or back-biting? How about just thanking them next time and saying “Wow, I’m glad we got that done.” Remember – though this may hurt your ego – it’s not about “you” – it is ALL about your TEAM performance!
Successful teammates look for ways to work together, regardless of the circumstances. They put their all into finding ways to function well as a team. Think about your attitudes toward your teammates. We’re not going to function unless those attitudes are all positive. Are you finding it tough to love one or more of your co-workers? When it gets right down to it, you can’t change other people but you can change how you react and relate to them. Their life and behavior are theirs … you can always respond positively and have a good attitude toward them regardless of their attitude toward you. Is it easy? No. Is it part of being a mature, successful, functioning, and happy adult? You bet it is! Remember, change your thoughts and you change your world.
It takes work to function as a team. Human nature makes us naturally selfish. Breaking out of that requires a dedicated and conscious effort. In all adult relationships other than that with our Lord and Savior, we must first love in order to be loved. Are you loving enough?