Teamwork: Give in and let go (video)

By · Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Perhaps no word brings more tension to a classroom discussion than “teamwork.” It makes students cringe.

First reactions usually go something like this:

These are all valid reactions. I can relate – in academic and professional settings.


But for all the failures and failed opportunities that I have experienced, I have enjoyed even more successes when working with others. That word  – others – is key.

If you want to be a good team player, you have to let go of yourself and your own needs and put your energies into others and their needs. My co-author says it well in the video that accompanies this post. And had he included me in the video … 😉 … I would have responded to one thing he says in it. At one point, he describes how his strategy of “giving in” leads to a positive reaction from his teammates: “I’m getting my way more than I expected or more often than I expected.”

I know what he means. But I would have elaborated to ensure that viewers, too, understand. “My way” does not mean selfish gain. It means: “I was heard.”

Everyone desires and deserves that kind of respect. And it happens best in personal, face-to-face communication. Not by text message. Not by email. That’s probably the biggest factor in teams falling apart: No one meets. Instead, partners start communicating electronically. We all know what happens next: MIScommunication. Eye contact isn’t there. Nuances are lost. The message doesn’t get across. People are not heard.

You’ve probably seen this saying on a T-shirt: There is no “I” in TEAM. It makes sense. When you can lose yourself to your partner, you are part way there. If your partner will not let go of self, you will have a challenge. Your best strategy is to approach every conversation and decision with respect and selflessness, even if your partner is making it personal – because there’s nothing more personal than “I,” is there?

Emilie Davis




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