Dealing with Difficult Team Members

difficult praise dance teamsThis is the fourth of a five part series on dealing with team related issues. If you haven’t read the previous issues. Make sure to do that.

All of the questions so far have related to team leaders. Today’s question is from a team member. It’s a question many people can relate to, whether on a dance team or in a small group. The details may differ, but the heart of the question is the same:

How do you deal with team members who dominate discussions?

How should you respond when someone rides roughshod over your questions or ideas?

Should you speak up during practice? If you don’t, will your ideas ever be heard?

I drew heavily from Lynn Hayden’s book, Team Terrificus in answering this question. I highly encourage you to get it, if you don’t have it.

Here’s her specific dilemma:

You are on a dance team and there is another member who interrupts when you’re talking to the dance leader and turns that leaders attention to them.  You don’t get to finish what you were saying. Other times, you get a vision for the ideal that your leader is explaining, so you ask a question so you can get a better understanding, when a team member interrupts with her own ideal of that vision. The leader runs with the ideal never letting you finish that particular conversation. How do you handle this?
Having a team member who has a tendency to dominate can try your patience.  Not taking offense when you are overlooked takes genuine humility from the Spirit.
You can help your leader by saving your own questions and suggestions for a time after practice. Sometimes, when the leader is sharing his/ or her vision or choreography and one person interjects to ask a clarifying question or to share ideas, it opens a floodgate of questions and comments that might eventually have been addressed. If you can hold off until your leader has finished or even wait to talk to him/her after rehearsal, you help create a more peaceful atmosphere in rehearsal.
Also, do a quick heart check to make sure your frustration isn’t coming from pride. Can you lay down your desire to be heard? Trust the Lord to bring about His purposes through you. I’ve seen this principle hold true in many areas of my life. When I’ve had a burning desire to put forward my own idea, plan, take on an issue, but the door has seemed closed to do this. When I have taken the issue to God in prayer and laid it at his feet, He has surprised me by. To me, this is an example of James 1:xxx, “Humble yourself under the Mighty hand of God, and He will lift you up in due time.
If, over time, and after you have prayed about it, the issue persists and so do your feelings, take your dance leader out for coffee or lunch. Share with you how this person’s behavior is affecting you and how you feel about it. Be respectful and be vulnerable. It is possible that what you are feeling she also has also noticed. It may be that by you humbly sharing your heart about it, you will validate what she already sensed but needed confirmation on in order to act. Ask her if there is anything you can do to help.
Read tomorrow to hear some practical ideas about how to encourage men to participate on the team. These ideas have come from more experienced leaders than I and from other men themselves. You’ll go away with some ideas you can use.