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Coworker Conflict

3 Ways to Build a Team

A few years ago, I was on a work team that caused me a lot of stress. There were personality conflicts and contradicting priorities. On the plus side, everyone on the team acknowledged the problems and agreed to work together to fix them. We tried a variety of team-building exercises to improve communication and develop shared priorities. Unfortunately, as time passed, nothing improved. I spoke with team members individually and discovered that some of them believed they were OK; everyone else needed to change. They thought the purpose of the exercises was to bring the rest of the team around to their way of thinking.

In order for any group to succeed, its members need to aspire to a common good rather than individual objectives. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes three elements that are essential to achieving the common good in society. (CCC 1907-1909) These elements translate very well into developing teams that work together toward a common good:

Respect for the person. Some people have unique talents and ideas that are often overlooked because they don’t seem to “fit” into the standard way of thinking. Often, great ideas are lost because we didn’t take the time to explore someone’s bizarre suggestion.

The well-being and development of the group itself. It’s difficult for many individuals to recognize that the only way they are going to succeed is if the team succeeds. Therefore, it may require you to set your personal motives aside in the interest of the team.

The common good requires peace. Strive for peace among team members and peace within yourself. Only if you are at peace yourself – not harboring anger or resentment – will you be a positive force within your team.

We often blame others when things aren’t going right; it soothes our ego to think, “I’m OK, the rest of the world is crazy.”  So, we desperately try to change people to conform to “our” way of thinking, but seldom does that happen. The secret to drawing the best out of teammates is to first examine and adjust our own attitudes. Once we do that, we become a positive force in guiding behaviors at work and in society toward the common good.