Self-reflection journal 2
Just a couple of weeks into our semester, my team and I met and introduced each other. And based on my initial observations of our group dynamics, I mentioned in my first journal that, in my view, we may face a few challenges and issues going forward. Fast forward, 6 weeks, and I was right about one – difference of opinion. I also talked about the solution being open communication and being empathetic, however, I did not realize that it was going to be this difficult. Communication in terms of simply talking wasn’t effective. It needed something more. Similarly, another hurdle that we faced that I, personally, did not take into consideration initially was us ‘working in silos’. This may have happened infrequently but it was still an issue that we needed to deal with.
So, these were the two main barriers that I encountered, and before I explain how we managed to overcome them, I want to highlight the solutions that have already worked for us quite well. First, from the get-go, we were direct with each other instead of running around in circles. I personally used a three-stage mediation process – acknowledging the conflict in terms of how to approach the white paper, understanding the situation and reaching a consensus. Talking to team members one-on-one rather than in a group helped immeasurably. And talking wasn’t enough; it was important to be a proactive listener as well. We listened to their concerns and grievances and tried to resolve them amicably. We were accommodating in terms of giving the opposing side what they wanted; and we avoided confrontations as much as possible by understanding where they were coming from. Another solution to most of our problems, that I believe cannot be understated, is food. One commonality among us is our love for food. We went to dinner just to set aside our issues, and have some fun. We essentially bonded over food. It helped boost our morale and collaboration. More often than not, these solutions helped us tackle our issues efficiently. However, the two barriers that I highlighted in the beginning may need some alternate answers.
One remedy to solve our differences of opinion could be speaking to team members with more ‘respect’. Tone of voice and facial expressions are essential body language cues that can sometimes be lost when in a disagreement. Hence, it is paramount we do not disrespect one another. I believe valuing the right to differ can actually be beneficial. I also feel the physical environment plays a key role. So, it is important we, as a team, meet in a neutral place such as a public park or a coffee shop just to unwind and share things. A few other solutions could be to consider another person’s perspective and being open even if one of us feels attacked. The importance of using ‘I’ statements to avoid pointing fingers at each other cannot be underestimated. Discussing the facts of our differences openly and calmly can, in fact, disarm any defensive walls that we may possess.
And a second major solution to our ‘working in silo’ problem, apart from what is already mentioned, could be honouring each member’s time and effort by consciously seeing ourselves as a full-time member of the team, instead of an individual contributor. We must create a common and unified vision for the team, and work towards achieving a common goal. As every individual is different, we must motivate and incentivize each other in a way that would bring out the best in us. Additionally, we must focus on opportunity, and not crisis to ensure smooth functioning of the team. While it’s true that crisis could help one take action, it is also true that it could send one running for the door. Hence, it is imperative we help one another emphasize opportunity rather than the problem.