by Sophie Lippert, www.sophielippert.com
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth
Who’s on your team?
Who are your cheerleaders?
Who’s your personal VIP?
News flash: as humans, we’re all on teams. Teams can be personal or professional, big or small. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’ve got teams: family members and friends, pals from retreats and conferences, acquaintances you take classes and volunteer with. A team can be as simple as you and a business girlfriend organizing a happy hour together, or as complex as a whole crew of people working to launch a product or build a website.
No matter what size your projects and teams are, knowing how to effectively navigate interpersonal dynamics is key. Because if teams work well, magic happens! And the more brainpower and “heartpower” that’s available, the more potential there is to build something far greater than one person’s efforts can ever yield. As Helen Keller said: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
So, how to keep your team running smoothly?
Teams are only effective when there is a solid foundation, based mostly on one Very Important Player:
Here are five keys to communication that will help keep everyone on your team happy, productive, and supported–yourself included!
We live in a culture where teams are often cutthroat and competitive, and kindness is often ignored. But being an invaluable team player is not about simply being the person who scores the most goals or points. True team players work to collaborate and connect at the highest possible level, so everyone can perform at their personal best. And being generous with compliments and gratitude is a surefire way to arm others with the energy and enthusiasm to do their job well! It’s easy to take team members for granted, in particular if there is tension or conflict. But even when there’s friction, there are always things to be grateful for. Make sure to regularly voice your gratitude and let others know you appreciate them.
Real talk is important. And here’s some real talk: It’s impossible to move through conflict or tension without processing it! Saying to a coworker, partner, or friend “When you do this, I feel…” or “This is challenging for me…” or “I want to acknowledge that I’m feeling some tension here…” helps to begin to dissipate any building emotions of resentment, fear, or anger. Another important note: Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself! It’s not your team members’ job to read your mind and know exactly what your needs are. It’s your job to speak up, communicate clearly what’s going on with you, and identify what you need from your team members.
To be truly present, listening is key. Listening demonstrates that you care, and that you value and appreciate your team member’s opinions. Giving someone your full attention in the moment is one of the greatest ways to build a solid and trusting foundation for business and personal team relationships. Though words are essential for communication and connection, showing someone that you care–and that they and their perspectives are important to you–is the best way to build trust and loyalty. And the simplest and often most effective way to demonstrate your care is to quiet down, ask questions, and listen. Give the gift of your time and presence. They are truly priceless commodities.
Ever experienced the uncomfortable dynamic that arises when a friend, coworker, or even boss “dumps” on you emotionally? Pledge to yourself that you won’t be a person who offloads her feelings on others! Take ownership for your own process, and take personal responsibility for your reactions. When in crisis, breathe first before calling others in a panic. Spreading anxiety does not foster a positive and supportive team dynamic. One great tip for times of stress is to keep perspective, and remember that most problems that feel overwhelming and all-consuming in a moment are just small blips in the scheme of your business and the span of your life.
How do each of your team members like to be supported? One way to discover this is to use love languages, a methodology that suggests there are five primary ways of giving and receiving love and appreciation: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, and quality time. (Marie Forleo famously runs her successful team using this simple tool! Read more and take the love language quiz here.) Whether it’s love languages, the Enneagram, or other personality profiling, the power of supporting others in the way they like to be supported can’t be understated. When team members feel appreciated, teams sail smoothly. Yes, conflict may still arise, but when effective and positive communication styles have been cultivated, it becomes so much easier to lean in and work through tension. When dealt with from a space of love, conflict and resolution can actually help teams grow closer!
Teamwork truly makes the world go ‘round. Teams shape cultures and communities, and contribute to the creation of nearly everything around us. Even when ideas originate with one person, there’s almost always a team that help bring those ideas to fruition. So make sure you’re playing the field in a way that supports you and your team members communicating and collaborating effectively. Working together through teamwork, we can make a positive and lasting impact on the world!
Sophie Lippert, www.sophielippert.com
Sophie is a world-class classical pianist, piano teacher, writer, and business consultant. The thread that unites all of her work is her love for helping people connect more deeply: to themselves, to their communities, to their dreams, and to their work. Sophie teaches piano to kids and adults of all levels and backgrounds in a beautiful studio in downtown Portland. She also has an active concert calendar as a professional classical pianist, in Portland and beyond–including a February 2019 performance with the Seattle Philharmonic at Benaroya Hall! For clips of Sophie playing piano, find her on Instagram.