In the first part of this, I shared part of my experience working in an all-female group. Of course, it’s not all rosy working in teams for all reasons outlined in the aforementioned piece. It’s how you deal with the issues that arise that matters most. This is what people will remember you for.
In the heat of things, it’s easy for everything to turn into a blame game. Emotions run high and everyone gets irritable. Which is why I longed for the world to swallow me alive. But that’s not the solution. I had to confront the situation head-on, as difficult and as irritating as it was.
Here now are the lessons I picked from that.
It Can’t Be Your Way Or The Highway
Some people always want to monopolise everything so that it works in their best interests. I have a wedding to attend and I can miss it, I have to go here, there Bla! Bla! Bla! And they fly these excuses anytime group work comes up. When you adopt the “it’s my way or the highway” approach in a group endeavour, there’s no way you’ll be able to work. You force everyone else into your universe without any consideration. They become aggrieved and eventually, no one wants to work.
What these kinds of people tend to forget is that a team’s interests should be bigger than anyone else’s interests. This is not to say that you should neglect self-care. No. It’s just to say that you should be considerate about your work members. Know that your decisions impact them.
There’s no time to worry about who’ll hate or dislike you after. Chances are they won’t even remember about it next semester or after the project is done. If something is not working, if someone is holding you back, you have to let them know. This is the time to fly that banner of the sisterhood. You are fighting for everyone including this one sister who’s not fulfilling her role.
Be gentle when doing this. It’s not time for you to character assassinate someone. Don’t exploit this moment to dig into the archives and revive old battles. It’s not the moment to dig someone’s grave and bury them in it. Remember, you might be right but you still need them. This need can be for the short term and long term.
Separate Work & Friendship
This won’t be easy because who knows where the line between work and friendship starts and ends? Your contract? Your grades? The idea here is not to take advantage of your friendship to get your way. If you are supposed to have a group meeting, show up. Whatever you’ve been tasked with, ensure you execute it. Be as reliable as you are when you have a party to organise to sustain the friendship. The same way you turn up for those sleepovers with all the excitement in the world is the same energy you should bring to your group.
On countless occasions, I’ve heard people say things like “as long as I’ve done my part, the rest is not my business.” I used to be on this train of thought until I had this experience. I realised that you cannot just separate yourself from the rest of the group. This is about collective responsibility. Instead of just “doing your part” figure out a way of solving the problem of why your members aren’t being cooperative.
The professor who was leading this class never allowed us to break the group or exchange groups. He didn’t provide the easy way out. We had to figure out a way of making things work. Even if we didn’t want to, we had to. There was no other option. Such situations will come your way in life. There’s no exit door. Will you always resign from your job when you have a disagreement? Will you walk out on your friends or family in difficult times?
Take the lesson early, when you have the chance to “experiment”. Build that experience. It’s going to serve you for life.
Read More: Let's Water One Another
Read More: Let's Water One Another