When people don’t know what’s going on, they make something up.
Most are uncomfortable with the feeling, “I don’t know,” so they insert a story into the situation. It’s really a part of the human condition.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“She must just be a &#^&$ ,”, or “He’s just reacting to that thing that happened.”, or “I’m pretty sure that those guys are not the kind of guys we want to hang out with.”
Things go south QUICKLY on teams when things are not easy and communication is not valued. Or perhaps good “communication” is not defined well to be understood among the individuals, and so people have to make up stories to fill the gaps in understanding.
What if coaches made it their top priority to define great communication, display the standards through positive and negative examples and talked about it
Would that help?
What if you did the work to know what was truly important to you?
What if you saw all of your actions thru a lens of the values you believe deeply in? What if you really knew what those were?
What if you worked hard to really value the impact of your actions based upon higher values that winning and losing? It might work.
Keep doing, and work harder on being.
People have to sign things in order to participate. From elementary school to the NCAA, one can’t participate unless they agree to do or not do certain things. This we (mostly) easily accept, and regardless, the rules are really clear.
You likely have written rules for your team, no matter what type of team it is. Perhaps a handbook, employee guide, posters in the lockerroom or a contract to sign.
On the flip side, many of us have more unwritten rules than written ones. “Work hard”, “show respect”, “be a good teammate”, are all big picture unwritten rules.
Does everyone on your team know exactly what is meant by those unwritten rules? Do you know?
Perhaps you also have some that are similar to these: “freshman do the grunt work”, or “the head coach is always right”.
It’s time well spent to investigate and know what the unwritten rules are on your team–you may not even know that they exist–and to clarify the ones you like. Even more importantly, shine light on the ones that are not valid or helpful to your team (“we drink a lot on Saturday nights”), and rid your team of these unhelpful rules.
Did you ever notice that when you shine a flashlight under the bed, or simply turn on the lights, that the boogeyman disappears?
If you have issue in your operation or in any relationship, it works to turn on the lights. Illuminate the concerns, even if you are unsure who is “right” or what the “right” thing to do is.
State the facts, solicit opinions, and see if bringing it out in the open helps to give you ideas as to how to proceed.
“The thing to do” is often super clear after you get a good look at the problem. Reflect on your values and the lens at which you see the world, and a course of action will show itself.
One of the conversations that has stuck with me for over ten years…
“Coach, I figured something out,” she said one April morning. “I’m so used to coaches being the one who yelled at us and made us run, I never thought of them as being on the same team as us.”
She was shocked when she felt support from her college coach.
It’s doubtful that all of her coaches before that were “against” her and her teammates, or that yelling was the top activity.
Yet, she FELT that way…the prevailing FEELING about coaches was of being criticized, “yelled at”, even if voices weren’t raised, and of being on the other side.
Recognize how people feel in your presence. Your words may not be as important as you think.
How can I help?
What do you need?
Are you feeling ok? Anything I can do?
These are such well-meaning questions, but if a person is really struggling with something–a “life problem” or how to field a ground ball–they may not know what they need, and it’s probably not an answer that would be most helpful.
Offering to provide a fix that neither party knows exists is impossible, and “well, let me know…” is really not helpful.
So, just Show Up for your friend, teammate or partner of any sort. Just be there; you don’t even need to be a good listener, specialize in empathy, or even spend much time to be good at Showing Up.
In sports, showing up can look like being first to something, being prepared, being willing to lose, or fall short. It can be cheering, and it can be pushing; high fives can come in all sizes.
Showing up can be a smile or pat on the back, a “I see you working hard”, or a package of cookies, or a note or card. It can be an email or a text message or a stop-by-to-say-hi or shovel the driveway.
Just do something, no matter how minor.
There are no rules of caring for people, and don’t worry if you don’t know what to do, just show up for them.
Coaches spend time thinking about and communicating what we are for; what we stand for, what we’ll fight for, what behaviors we want to see.
We don’t spend time thinking about what we’re against. What are some of the things that people say, do or require that you disagree with? Maybe you do some of these yourself without really knowing why?
If we know what we’re against we can figure out how to unteach that thing, and use a negative to make things positive.
What are you against?