The Trickery of the Tongue
A young girl once complains to her visiting grandfather that she feels helpless and dejected because her parents are always busy screaming at each other. The grandfather summons the couple and asks them: “Do you know why we scream?” “To drill our point in the opposite head,” is the curt reply.
“No.” explains the grandfather, “It’s not the head. It’s the heart we are trying to reach out to. Often we are in physical proximity, but our hearts are distant. So we feel the need to scream for our message to be heard. Work on bridging your hearts. Then a day will come when you will start communicating in whispers.”
The grandfather’s wisdom has wide applicability, in family and business life. When we see a pair of teammates in a heated argument, it is a symptom of not just professional differences, but a personal disconnect as well. It is an indication that our hearts are misaligned with each other as well as the org objectives.
The hostility consumes us. We become insensitive. We forget that our screaming intimidates others, especially the junior ones who withdraw into a shell. It is, therefore, very important for bickering teammates to invest time in building personal rapport beyond work. For only when we have relationships of the heart, can we learn to work together in whispers.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, there is another young child who shares her agony with her grandfather, “My parents are forever in their own private space, busy whispering to each other. It’s like I don’t even exist. I feel dejected, an outsider in my own family!”
You see, sometimes we get so carried away in the comfort zone of old relationships, that we don’t realize the integration needs of our subordinates. Especially the new team members. The excess of both traits—too much friction or too much bonding—alienates other teammates.
Closeness is good. Selective closeness is not.
Screaming is bad. But so is whispering. When working in a team, we need to be personal, but not too personal. We need to be professional, but not too professional. Above all, our tongue needs to learn the art of ‘team’ talk. It helps in building 360 degrees relationships. At home. And at work.