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It's About What Goes Out, Not What Comes In

A recent survey by UK recruitment agency, Office Angels, says that 2 out of 5 people are regularly irritated by the people they work beside.

38% of those surveyed said that they had had to complain to their bosses about the behaviour of their colleagues, including too much talking, eating noisily, leaving desks untidy, and taking lunchtime workouts without showering afterwards.

This survey reminds me that few of us are lucky to work in great teams in every job we do. Some of us complain, some of us suffer in silence. A few turn the situation around.

A few years back, I took an interim consultancy position in a large organisation where I joined an established team. From day one, there was a noticeable atmosphere of suspicion. A few of the team were formally friendly, but others didn't exchange a word with me.

Although little bits of me were starting to hurt inside, I decided that, whatever the problems the individuals in the team were having, they were nothing to do with me, and that I should just practice 3 things that we teach on our Teambuilding courses at ManageTrainLearn.

1. Put the team first, even before yourself
2. Be a determined team sharer. Share information, ideas, thoughts and feelings with the rest of the team.
3. Ignore the little irritations that come your way and project a positive can-do and sunny disposition.

In the course of a few weeks, these 3 things changed the whole climate of the team towards me. By the time I left the assignment after 9 months, every single member of the team was not an irritant but a good and true friend.

The responsibility for making teams work isn't the boss's or the organisation's. It's yours. Despite what they say in the slogans, there is an "I" in "TEAMWORK" and it's you and what you give out to others.

One of my all-time favourite quotes comes from author Alan Cohen, who said: "We are hurt when we don't receive love. But that is not what hurts us. Our pain comes when we do not give love. We were born to love. You might say that we are divinely-created love machines. We function most powerfully when we are giving love. It's not about what comes back. It's about what goes out."

So, the next time one of your colleagues takes your pencil-sharpener and forgets to return it, don't get irritated. Buy them a new one, wrap it up, and give it to them as a present.