How do you feel about “team building days”? If your stomach rolled at the mention of it, or you let out an audible groan, you’re not alone.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I recently tweeted a thought that it’s time “ice-breakers” and “role play” stopped, and we consider their value; that we stop and ask why we do them. Having done them myself in the past (and never really enjoyed them), I wanted to know what others had to say. The Tweet was extremely popular.
At the time of writing, it’s had over 17,000 engagements, more than 4000 ‘likes’ and hundreds of retweets. Not that these alone are a measure of course, but the comments said it all. People described cringing at activities some trainers had made them do, whilst others spoke of how anxious they get and feeling worse when they’d finished, than when they’d walked in. One person described being asked to draw herself as if she were a shoe – a shoe – and was mortified when the drawing she did was so bad that when it was pinned to the wall (where it stayed all day), the Trainer had put it upside down.
Now, if you’re someone who loves a good round table intro by telling “two truths and a lie”, or building things out of spaghetti and marshmallows (quite a few people had something to say about that) then hear me out. It’s not that these are ‘bad’ activities; it’s more about putting safety and choice first. It’s particularly hard for those who are naturally quiet, or who recognise themselves as ‘people pleasers’ or describe themselves as ‘introverts’. (A few people in the thread described that when they dared to say ‘no’ to the trainer, they were “told off” or felt so uncomfortable they felt they had no choice but to leave). It’s not “stretching people out of their comfort zones” if they’re being forced to have fun, or if they feel obligated to take part simply because everyone else is doing it. So it’s ok to ask what value something brings.
Here’s what might help:
This week, maybe set the intention to Remember Your Why. Have a think about things you’ve always done, whether at work or at home and the reasons for it. If the answer is “it’s always been that way” it may be time for a change, especially if there’s a better, or healthier way. If the answer is “I can’t say no” or “I have no choice”, then think about what that means for you and the wider picture. Remember, you have a right to say no, a right to feel safe and a right to feel heard. If none of these feel true right now, then reach out to those who can help. The video below also offers some tools as food for thought.
This article will be useful if you identify as a ‘people pleaser’ at work; it acknowledges how exhausting it can be, especially if you’re always worrying everyone else is ok. The beauty of it is, when you’ve figured out the why, the what and how takes care of itself.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2021