We can be a cynical bunch, us Brits. We love a good moan, or a spot of playing Judgy McJudgy. How many meetings have you been in where you’ve thought – obviously you’re wrong… you do go on, don’t you… here we go again...?! It’s so easy to find fault, to pick up on what we don’t rate about someone or why we disagree with them.
But when was the last time you actually thought about what you loved about working with someone? Or maybe not loved, (let’s not go that far just yet) but liked, respected, or appreciated about them? When did you stop and think, hang on, that’s an interesting take on this? In today’s increasingly complex world we need to find more ways to solve problems, deal with multiple pressures and on some days, just stay afloat. It’s virtually impossible to do this alone and yet we persist in our own thinking, in seeing the world through our own lens or turning to our normal partners in crime that we know share that view.
We worked with a leadership team recently who were going through a real period of uncertainty and change. Time spent off-site together was either about getting updates or a chance to ‘get things off their chest’ – a good old moan fest. Whilst it was important that they felt they had a safe place to do that, we noticed that there wasn’t much positive reinforcement or recognition in the room. They were very encouraging of their own teams’ performance, but they didn’t feel like a team who recognised each other much.
So at the end of one of the sessions we asked them to do something they’d never done before. We asked them to talk to each other one-on-one and say what they really liked about each other. What they noticed, what they benefited from, what they admired. They were nervous at first – men don’t really do this kind of thing, and honestly, couldn’t they just go and get a beer now? – but we encouraged them, and they had a go.
It was brilliant. We watched the room change from a boardroom to a series of moving vignettes: from intense dialogue and honesty, to smiles, laughter and even the odd hug. It carried on – we thought they’d want to go and get that beer - but the activity was so powerful we eventually said our goodbyes and left them to it.
If you can, try spending the day finding out what you love about working with someone rather than what you don’t. You may find it enlightening… and it’s certainly good for the soul.