My dad turned 80 last month…a blessing I’m grateful I got to celebrate with him. Longevity runs in the family so while we’re not surprised, it’s not something we take for granted. He and my mom are doing aging the way it should be done: engaged in life, enjoying the fruits of their labor, and exercising enough to keep their bodies able to move.
My dad’s celebration and a planned joint birthday party for both parents not withstanding, birthday celebrations are not something our family really does well. I don’t remember many (any?) birthday parties, just the occasional birthday present…unless you were born in December or January in which case you had to make do with a Christmas/birthday present.
As my brother says, if our parents and a majority of the five siblings acknowledge your birthday, it’s a good birthday!
My sister-in-law is appalled. APPALLED, y’all! She does celebrations in a big way with ALL the bells and whistles, so our birthday behavior, or lack there of, is different, foreign, alien to her.
This is the kind of difference that can cause conflict in any relationship. Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-love understand how our individual experiences inform our choices, what we perceive as normal behavior, and what we might judge as abnormal. They’ve opted to reserve judgment and strive to accept and enjoy their differences.
Our individual experiences inform our choices, what we perceive as normal behavior, and what we might judge as abnormal. Tweet this now!
Here’s the thing. We sometimes assume everyone has had the same experience, has the same perception and will react the same way as we do. Of course, they haven’t, don’t and won’t. Even in the same family… my brother is a decade younger and my experience as the first child born to young 20-somethings just starting out, is remarkably different from his as the youngest of five.
Now, if we could just silently “Bless their hearts” and keep our perceptions and judgments from outwardly affecting our reactions, our interactions would be absent of conflict. Unfortunately, when the other person doesn’t react in a way that is familiar to us, we often judge them negatively. Tweet this now!
“…man is so imprisoned in his type of thinking that he is simply incapable of fully understanding another standpoint.” ~ Carl Jung
On a team, negativity toward differences can stop differences from being expressed, create unresolved conflict and result in a team imploding. Tweet this now!
How can a team leader prevent differences from destroying a team?
Embrace the differences!
Differences in thought, experience, and perception are what give a team its edge. Tweet this now!
As the leader, you have to understand that differences are good, enthusiastically embrace the diversity of your team members and create a culture where they can be fully themselves.
Maybe you aren’t comfortable with hearing a difference of opinion. Maybe you equate disagreement with disrespect. Maybe you’re not sure the person with a different perspective is as committed to the vision of the team as you are. In my experience, however, the team member with a different perspective just wants to make sure the team has considered all possibilities when choosing a course of action. Tweet this now!
“Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?” ~ Oprah Winfrey
On a team, each member has the right, even the responsibility of expressing fully who they are, what they know and what they bring to the team. Tweet this now!
As the leader, you’re responsible for creating a safe space for your team to express their differences.
It can be difficult for people to explain the origins of their reactions to their life experiences. Or maybe their knowledge in their area of expertise cause them to reach an obvious conclusion so it’s NOT obvious to them that an explanation is necessary. However, if the differences are causing conflict on your team, it’s imperative that you seek to resolve the conflict. If there is no explanation, ask for clarification!
It won’t mean the other person agrees with you or that you have to change who you are, but it can lead to deeper understanding and more compassion on either side. Digging deeper for a greater understanding, greater clarity can bring greater success to your team.
It’s the differences on a team that makes the difference! Embrace them, express them, explain them if necessary and, most of all ENJOY them! Tweet this now!
Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked
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