The Red Carpet: Speak My Language Part 2

Disclaimer: Refer to Speak My Language Blog Post 1 for background information on “The Four Tendencies Framework.”

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“Agreeing to disagree isn’t license to hold hateful and condemning beliefs about me as though it doesn’t negatively impact our relationship.” 
― Jamie Arpin-Ricci

“Often after arguing about differing opinions, I hear people say, “let’s agree to disagree.” I look forward to a time, so open-minded I’ll hear people say, “I’m right and you can be, too” 
― Paula Heller Garland

The above quotes hold a lot of magnitude and weight when it comes down to relationships and what we takeaway and bring to our team tables. In “Speak My Language (Part 1), “I wrote about Gretchen Rubin’s “Four Tendencies Framework” which categorizes individuals according to their response to life’s presentations. I took the quiz to find out that I’ve been an obliger (pretty much all my life).” Over the course of the past 15 years I’ve worked on numerous teams with various partnerships in college, my workplace, and of course, in my personal life. In each an every one of them I can pinpoint my active role as an obliger.

Today, let’s talk about the ideal team? What does readily available research suggest of the ideal team characteristics like those of partnerships, marriages, or teams in the workplace? Which personalities deem the most effective and superior for getting things done progressively? I’m not looking for a team that doesn’t have arguments and differences. I’m looking for a team that truly exemplifies the meaning of “agreeing to disagree”; that in spite of the odds, in spite of the elements at hand we can agree that we aren’t getting this done this way so let’s just do it in spite of. Or we can walk away from the assignment and yet respect each other. I’m looking for commitment that says, “I won’t go behind a door and defame you, I may go behind a door to vent about my grievances, but I will walk away as an adult and still support you, our partnership, and our team with 100% efficacy.”

The Facts

In most circumstances, when the maturity level isn’t at a height that is required for trust and support, we find ourselves doing exactly what Jamie Arpin-Ricci’s quote insinuates. We allow our inabilities to agree on a matter to control our beliefs about an individual causing us to operate in a response (mostly that which is of the rebel) that isn’t conducive to the team making progress. The team’s environment becomes tainted by the endless propensities of ineffective communication and mockery based on one or numerous episodes of the inability to agree in previous experiences.

What happens when you don’t get to choose your team? This isn’t a gym class where the teacher picks the leaders and let them get in front of the class and choose their preferred group members to play with. This is a group of adults elected to lead and work together; the dilemmas that plague childsplay has passed, or at least they should have.

The Rebel and Obliger   
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According to Rubin, when it comes to relationships, the rebel and the obliger are great together. Say what! Her research coins the two as working well together because rebels remind obligers to take care of themselves. They create a balance for each other. Research or not, I am yet to work with a rebel that balances my obliging. In my opinion they have a tendency of being very condescending and who wants to work with someone that makes them feel as though they are incompetent, illogical thinkers. If I were a student standing in the front of the classroom picking team members to be a part of my team, I would leave the rebel seated. Yes they can potentially bring a liberating sense of ease to the group atmosphere but their liberation could also invite unwanted stress with their nonchalant attitude towards tasks and deadlines.

There are ways to work with the rebel even if you don’t favor them. You have to learn how to leave them alone unless they show genuine interest in working with the team to complete an assignment. You have to trust that regardless of their lack of response to demands that they will work to get the job done. They don’t need you standing over them. It will only cause tension between the both of you. Here are some ways to work with the rebel to create a uniform sense of peace within the team.

  1. State directions and deadlines clearly.
  2. Set up times to check-in on progress.
  3. Don’t stand over them, they already have a shadow; yours is not needed.
  4. Mind your own business. Check-ins serve as a constant reminder.
  5. State your commands in ways that don’t sound so demanding.

The one thing that you should remember when working with a rebel if you are an obliger is that you both struggle to meet internal expectations. Hopefully this knowledge will allow you to be more forgiving when interacting with him or her.

Questioner and Rebel

In my opinion, I have found that the questioner and the rebel are better at working together. This may be because they both tend to reject outer expectations. This will cause them to side with each other during times when they may need someone in their corner. Both the questioner and rebel bring a challenge to the cohesiveness of the team. It may take more energy and practiced communication to learn how to properly deal with both. Most rebels tend to make decisions based on their feelings, as will the questioner. Rebels tend to be the leaders for questioners, due to their free spirited nature and their commonality to question the requests of their services. These personalities together can rattle the nerves of the obliger and the upholder, although the upholder will most likely be affected most. When both personality types are present and have an obvious alliance, it’s best to:

  1. Address both separately. If you address them both at the same time, you may regret it.
  2. Learn to be quick to hear with the questioner. Carefully observe the emotion and question that is present and answer accordingly.
  3. Be sure to not answer in a condescending manner when responding to the questioner. (This is sometimes easier said than done.)
  4. Arguing facts is not going to convince the questioner to act, it will cause more resistance.
  5. The questioner is grateful to have a rebel on board, he or she feels as if the rebel is there to protect others from the misuse of authority.
Upholders and Rebels

Although rebels drive the upholder absolutely crazy with their free-spirited and eccentric nature, they really are both the same. The difference is that the upholder will meet the deadline for the boss as well as get things done for him or herself. The upholder too is free-spirited in nature but not to the extent of ignoring the rules of the game. Once the rules are acknowledged, the upholder is going to play his or her best game and enjoy playing it. He may question the rules but it most likely won’t stop him from playing the game. You may feel like the upholder has the personality of holding the team together but in actuality the upholder might find him or herself angry with the other personalities if they don’t willingly commit to executing a particular request. It’s important that we remember that:

  1. Upholders are accountable to themselves and others in nature.
  2. They want what is best for the team.
  3. They are driven by following rules and meeting requirements.
  4. They are easily stirred when resistance is present because they just want to get the job done.
  5. They need balance and the help of the team. Don’t always rely on them to get the work done alone.

The nature of personalities and individualities really require moments of research and reflection. In education, as with any career, you will work with people that you are acquainted with and those that you are unfamiliar with but might have heard of. Yes, people engage each other in ways outside of personality alone. You might find that you both like to watch the same sports or enjoy the same hobbies and your relationship becomes centered on that. You might also find that the deeper you all dive into communication that things aren’t solidifying after several successful past interactions. The more time you spend with your team or partner, the more aware you will become of the multi-faceted tendencies that are present. It is not reasonable for us to box ourselves into one category of propensities as we all will find we share some commonalities with each other. However, it’s very logical for us to work on our team building by continuing our awareness of what each individual brings to the environment.

I am not an official researcher of personalities and the knowledge I obtain is from that of others whose careers are centered around observing, questioning, and testing human nature. Learning to effectively work with others is a goal that is of high importance to me. Teamwork is inevitable, especially if you are actively engaged in moving forward in your career. The more we know, I would like to think, the more we will be able to learn to agree to disagree or at least do as Paula Heller Garland supposed, “agree to both be right.”

Learning others teaches us how to internalize from our teammates’ points of view. We become more sensitive to the nature of our entire team and not just that which we exemplify. There is no I in “team?” Actually there is. There are individual “I’s” that make up “we” and “us.”

Shall we meet in the next post? Same time?

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My name is Shaundra Straughter. I am an educator, wife, mother, minister, author, and public speaker. I have been blessed by God with many talents but one purpose. I enjoy coaching and motivating others to success, whether it's in my profession of education or spiritually. I believe that we all have a purpose on this journey and some of us tap into our purpose sooner than others. Wherever you are in your walk, I'd like to encourage you to either get started or keep going! Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP!

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