Ever wonder if your team is dysfunctional?
    Ever wonder if your team is dysfunctional?

    Have you ever wondered if your team is healthy or dysfunctional? What is “dysfunctional” anyway? The short of it is human drama. And drama comes from one source. Unhealthy ego sensitivities. You know it by the undercurrent of useless interaction that, clearly, doesn’t serve the best interest of anyone, especially not the productivity of the team. But where is the fine line between just being human and going over the edge to dysfunction? I’ve been working to find answers to that question for over two decades and it’s become my life’s work. Drawing the line. For myself, for clients and even for family and friends in a more subtle way.

    The Fine Line.

    So, how does one identify what healthy teams and people do — versus dysfunctional ones? I have a simple formula. You can tell by how you feel. Do you feel icky and stressed? Or do you feel calm and notice calm self-respect as you interact with that person or persons? Drama happens when our unconscious ego wants something indescribable and unidentifiable and it goes there without our conscious permission. Like when you can feel yourself flattering someone and then walk away feeling icky and wondering why you said what you did? Did you try a bit too hard because you ego is desperate to have people like you? Is that because you are not sure you are likable and trying to prove it to yourself? Or another version is that you corrected someone about something stupid they did or simply that they spelled some things wrong in that important powerpoint deck. You could tell they felt stupid after you pointed out, so you feel a little icky but you couldn’t stop yourself because you have this tendency to think others are stupid if they are not precise. The Spelling/Grammar Police just comes out, even when uninvited to screw up your dynamic with that person.

    There are lots of different versions of icky behaviors that are unique to the individual, but the common denominator is that YOU know you feel icky after engaging it. It’s a part you can’t control all that well, you notice. It just does what it does and leaves you with the mess to clean up.

    The Inner Team Within.

    So, who is it actually — that noticed a part of you taking over and doing the unthinkable? It’s your true self lurking innocently behind the protective wall of all of your sub-parts. That’s the one you really are — the one who has the capacity to observe your various parts doing things. These parts are sub-personalities that have an agenda of their own. They emerged long ago when you had an experience and needed them. Like the part that is being too flattering may have emerged when you were so unpopular that you were picked last for the kickball team in elementary school. That part decided you have to be nicer to people so you will be popular. But there’s a problem. This part emerged when you were young, so it still has an immature mindset about the world that is super-emotional. You were 8 years old when it emerged, so it still has an 8 year old mentality. And THAT is why it wreaks havoc in an adult world. Parts of you have childish notions and surprise you when they show up in the workplace and all the sudden you are starting drama in the meeting room.

    Your real self is the one who notices.

    What to do? Next time your true self notices you reverting to a part that is up to no good, stop and think about the first time this part showed up in your life. How did it help you back then? Is it still helping you now in this new context? Or are you ready to tuck it into bed to go to sleep forever?

    In short, you will usually feel icky when a old part of you feels suddenly inappropriate in your current context. You’ve grown up and have the benefit of new wisdoms every day. Your real, true self has grown and noticed this part and is kind of embarrassed by it now. That means it’s time to let go. Call it what it is. Say goodbye.

    It’s a lifelong process.

    What part will I notice and put to sleep this week? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a couple of king-sized beds with old child parts in my big old sleeping house. I just have my fingers crossed that no one sets off any firecrackers anytime soon.