Team Building Fiasco
Inês Paler, Coach, Mom, Traveler
Let’s be a team!
“So what must we do to help Inês not feeling excluded?” I can tell you what: asking questions like that.
It was a team building event and we all made this awesome Personality Assessment called MBTI. You get to know yourself better by understanding your preferences about how you deal with others and the world around you. I love it but you have to do it right. That was definitely not the case this time around.
After what should be a confidential questionnaire, our results where spread on a graph for everyone to see. Not only it is incorrect to put it on a graph but I had not, at least knowingly, told anyone that it was OK to share my results.
Moving on, it seemed like everyone was an Extrovert while I was the only Introvert. I had kind of suspected that but now it was clear for all to see. And for some people, it was helpful to understand why I would sometimes behave in a certain way.
The slide came up with team results and my jaw dropped.
And so, there we were: sitting around a table while the slide came up with team results and my jaw dropped. I wanted to magically disappear. In fact, I was considering pretending I had just received a phone call I couldn’t miss. Unfortunately, I was too slow to escape. The presenter singled me out by saying, “Look, how interesting, that only Inês is not like the rest of us”. To make matters worse, there was more, “Now, as you know, there are no bad results and it’s okay for her to be like this.” A moment of silence, very brief, and I swear I could see a few looks of pity.
I was not happy.
“So, what must we do to help Inês not feeling excluded?”
I tried to say something but was interrupted. Twice. That was common; people would often interrupt each other in this group. It as a sign of active collaboration and excitement. Still, it wasn’t helping. But I was feeling triggered enough to take this as an opportunity.
I was considering pretending I had just received a phone call I couldn’t miss. Unfortunately, I was too slow to escape.
“It would help that I am not interrupted. As you know, an Introvert will prefer to take time to think before talking but when s/he talks, s/he has something to say. I understand if that’s not how we all operate but by shutting me down, you get less of what I have to offer. More important, it would help that I am not labelled like this. I want to ask everyone in the room not to start pointing this out to me from now on. Now we all know each other’s preferences – not just Intro/Extrovert. Let’s instead talk about how we can all collaborate better.”
I was shivering, I felt I had “blown up” or been quite aggressive. But a second later, people started jumping on top of each with excitement, “Yes, so, how can we put all our talents to work? ;)”, “Ah, it’s so true! I never let anyone talk, ahah!” Sigh.
Later on, I told the presenter I was disappointed that the results had been shared like that. I also said, as nicely as I could, that I wanted a commitment this wouldn’t happen again, with any group. Privacy and Confidentiality are key in our company and culture 🙂
Now, why was this a key moment for me at Google? Because it made me realise that we often put people in a hard spot while trying to help. And that, for the sake of transparency and collaboration, we can disrespect other people’s boundaries.
I am also happy about my reaction and assertiveness. It didn’t always come easily. Who am I kidding? Often, it still doesn’t come easily.
And, finally, it taught me to be watchful, whenever I use MBTI on any person or group, about how to deal with the results. This is, after all, about their personality and that is quite intimate.
If you are going through a tough time, coaching might help you get through it. I would love to help you so if you are interested, visit me at Coaching for Me or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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