Friend or Foe: How to Determine Who’s Really on Your Team

football.jpgby David Bohl

Did you ever hold someone in high regard as a friend, confidant, and/or advisor, only to have that person turn out to be nothing like who you thought they were? No doubt, a break in trust like this can be devastating.

Unfortunately, once we’ve been “burned,” it can be tough to start over with a clean slate and a fresh pair of rose colored glasses. And yet, that’s exactly what we need to do if we plan on living a happy and successful life!

The truth is, as much as we’d like to say that we’re independent, people need other people. We need them for comfort, we need them for connection (between each other, and as a bridge to other great minds who might be able to enrich us in some way)… we need them for inspiration. And quite simply, we need other people to help us get where we want to be in life.

Knowing this, when is the last time you asked yourself: Who’s on my team? Who can I count on when the going gets tough… who accepts me for who I am? Who opens up their mind and heart to my thoughts and feelings… who is willing to share their dreams with me?

Often, our personal and professional lives often overlap. We end up revealing a lot about ourselves to people who we work with every day. These people can either be a tremendous asset, or a poisonous liability. Knowing this, it pays to figure out who’s on your “Dream Team” and who is better off keeping at a safe but friendly distance.

A Good Balance of Like and Different

In general, you’ll find yourself attracted to people who share your same outlook, come-on, and personal views. Such people will be added to your team rather quickly, and for good reason: there is power in numbers! Remember though, to also befriend those who complement and contrast with your personality. Such people may take a very different approach to work and communication than you do, but that’s an asset because together you are more effective than you would be separately. Additionally, having people on your team who hold different perspectives than you do will help you maintain an objective viewpoint. This can be a great asset in professional decision-making.

Keep Your Friends Close

At work, you’ll find that the most trusted of colleagues will clue you in to office politics and make you aware of situations that you can fix before they come to a head. Such people can constantly be there watching your back, supporting your goals; and as a team, you can maintain a clean profile together. With such friends, the loyalty is there. The cooperative spirit is strong. At the end of the week, you can get together over a drink and celebrate your successes, as well as laugh about the bad situations that you managed to avoid by teaming up. This type of friend is someone who you want in your circle.

Keep Your Enemies Closer

The other side of the situation is when you have someone who is in the relationship or on your team for their own personal reasons. The “so-called friend” who is constantly asking for preferential treatment…the good assignment, the fun clients, the great opportunities. Such a person might bring in the occasional helpful water-cooler update… but more than likely, as soon as you make a decision for the team that is not in their ideal plan, they will turn on you. If you get too cozy, you’ll likely end up losing not only a friendship but also a comfortable and productive working environment.

Here are some red flags to help you remember which of your group mistakenly thinks there is an “I” in team: People who are not willing to participate in group assignments. People who can’t take criticism. People who are ready to broadcast their own ideas and successes, but quick to shoot down those of others. And of course, you want to limit your mixing with those who may be too caught up in appearances… things like judging people based on the kind of car they drive, or how attractive they are.

Positive Influences Positively Influence!

Generally speaking, team players are out for the greater good. They work well with others, can accept honest feedback even if it’s not 100% positive, and display a high emotional IQ. These types of “winners” in life are generally working toward a better end goal. And those who are willing to do the best they can to further their own goals, are more than likely ready to help you reach yours!

Coach David Bohl Can Help You Work on Team Building Skills. 

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