Every Sunday (when I am in town), Joe and I meet my mother at our church, St. Patrick’s Catholic Community, and then we go out to a leisurely breakfast. I enjoy our time together and the opportunity to reflect on my relationship with my maker, the events of the past week and the opportunities in the upcoming week.
Two weeks ago (on Palm Sunday), our pastor, Father Eric Tellez, shared three things we could work on to be a better Christian. (BTW, these suggestions originally came from Father James Martin S.J., a well known priest by his work in the media.)
As I was listening to Father Eric’s homily, it occurred to me that the same three things could be said for any of us to be a better teammate.
So what are those three things to work on?
1. Don’t Be a Jerk. Sometimes we share misery. The boss does things we don’t like; the traffic is bad driving in to work; life isn’t going our way. We become stressed and impatient. Things aren’t happening fast enough or we aren’t getting the results we want. So what happens? We angrily lash out at anyone who happens to be around – and in a very careless way. This is destructive and not respectful of others.
Don’t be a jerk and share your misery with others. Be kind.
2. Honor the Absent. How do you speak about people behind their back? Do you say things boldly when they are not there? Do you find it gleeful to be able to share information that makes another person not look so good?
Speak well about people – even when they are not there (or, as my grandmother used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”).
3. Give People the Benefit of the Doubt. Don’t assume their actions and words were meant to harm. Avoid automatically assuming the worst and jumping to conclusion that they are never going to change. You are looking at the world negatively. You don’t trust them.
Don’t jump to negativity, try to second guess or judge harshly. I call it “Assume Positive Intent.” Everyone has a bad day. What else could be going on? Assume the best scenario. Look for the good in them.
While Father James states that Christianity can be framed by two words, “Be kind,” I believe you can frame teamwork using one word: “Respect.” Over the next week, work on one or all three of them to become a better team member.
Kristin Arnold is a professional meeting facilitator who is passionate about teamwork, hence founding Quality Process Consultants, Inc. a consulting firm focused on building extraordinary teams in the workplace. You can read more of her work in one of her books Team Basics, Email Basics, Team Energizers, or Boring to Bravo.