WW20 November 9, 2016: Teamwork Under Pressure: “Better to talk with someone than about someone.”

Wednesday Wisdom Series: Teamwork Under Pressure: “Better to talk with someone than about someone.”
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Here is your bi-monthly Wednesday Wisdom series from the Family Assistance
Foundation, reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of
traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written
and copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D. and distributed by the Family
Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., fafonline.org. Reprint is available
with written permission from the Foundation. 

TeamWork Under Pressure: "Better to talk with
someone than about someone."

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Teams that are working together in a crisis environment are bound to have conflict
on occasion—due to the stressful nature of working with others in a highly emotional
environment. Seldom will all people view situations and issues the same and as the
old saying goes, “there are as many ways to ‘be’ as there are people.” American
basketball player Michael Jordan had this to say about the value of a team: “Talent
wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

Direct communication among team members is the only way to effectively work
together; particularly where people are trying to do their best collectively to serve
others in crisis. This would certainly apply to the work of supporting survivors of
work place tragedies, like that of the Family Assistance Foundation and its
members. When people communicate directly to one another, especially when it
involves a difference of opinion or outlook on tasks and/or challenges of how to
accomplish the work itself, emotional bonds are strengthened and the team
becomes stronger—and then the reverse is true.

One of the quickest ways to divide a team happens when two or more talk about
a team member to someone else who they believe can fix the problem/person
being complained about—rather than discuss concerns directly. When we ask
someone else to speak for us, we have no way of knowing how the second-hand
communication will occur.

The message will flow through the biases, emotions and filters of the messenger
which will influence not only how the information is given, but also how it is
received—and this may not be constructive.  Experts in leadership training teach
us that in order for feedback to be effective, it must be perceived as positive on the
part of the recipient, i.e., to help the recipient grow, and improve in their work and
relating with others.  In the field of emergency and crisis management
second-hand messages are particularly at risk for being presented in a less than
positive way in the midst of a particularly taxing work load.

Team members need to consider the goal of the communication to or about a
teammate. If the goal is to continue to work together with mutual respect and
harmony in serving those who depend on us during crisis, then the dignity of each
person on the team is to be honored by direct communication with all who have a
stake in the success of the team’s work.

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“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds
discuss people.”


Leadership of Care Teams, Special Assistance Teams, and similar organizations
who work together to support others in crisis can improve the group’s success and
effectiveness by encouraging direct communication and feedback, both in
“peacetime” and during activations. Regular discussions involving the entire
leadership team should occur where individuals are encouraged to express
themselves on any topic, but especially differences in opinion or issues of
concern. Open, constructive communication about everything that involves the
team can serve to foster relationships and build a stronger unit.  Leaders must
also communicate that talking ‘about’ a team member instead of providing caring,
direct, and honest feedback is not only harmful, it is directly opposite of
practicing compassion consciousness—and accomplishing the mission of those
involved in helping others.  

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555 North Point Center East, Suite 400
Alpharetta, GA 30022

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