“If you believe that the world is conspiring against you, it will just do that.”
─ Bangambiki Habyarimana
Assuming the worst of people is easy. This super competitive world has raised us to be self-sufficient and consider everyone a rival─or worse, an enemy.
These assumptions tend to translate to professional relations quite easily. You may feel attacked if your manager is trying to find out why your part of the job went wrong, or if you are trying to understand the intent of an email. It is totally natural to feel that way.
But if there is something that we have come to learn at Moka is that great teams work with good intentions in mind.
Our values go beyond this welcome card; we aim to fulfill them every day, and even more in this context where we’re away from each other. Online communication is prone to misunderstandings and feeling like you’re being put in the spotlight.
Good teams need a good foundation. Today, we need more people with excellent personal skills to be part of a group instead of a superstar solo-player.
Why is it so hard in remote teams?
Most human beings are not used to working remotely. We love talking and seeing who’s talking to us. Changing to a remote context makes communication awkward, and thus, we start to feel like some comments come with ill-intent.
This is why we consider this value so significant in our culture. Assuming good intentions gets rid of misunderstandings and allows both parties to have unfiltered conversations.
Why do we think messages come with evil intent?
It’s all about ego, in both ways. When we take our job really seriously, we consider it an extension of our self. Suppose someone makes a contradicting comment to your work or is opposing your opinion. In that case, you start feeling attacked, not only for what you said but who you are.
What’s the usual line of thought when this happens? “This person must hate me!” or “What’s his/her issue? He’s so cocky.” We start feeling like there’s a hidden agenda against us, and you need to fight back. But it’s hardly ever that way. Let’s look at how we can avoid this thinking and begin finding the good in other people’s comments.
Simple tricks to begin
As we said before, it’s not easy, but it’s actually simple to do. A technique that has helped one of our teammates is: “take five deep breaths when a comment or message sent you bad vibes. This will stop the initial reaction of the message and give you time to process it and find the positive meaning behind it.”
This works in the beginning when you’re trying to adopt this mindset, but it’s not a method that we should use all the time. To really start assuming good intentions, you should:
- Get to know your teammates. Being familiar with those around can teach you how someone gives feedback or behaves. Understanding how a coworker acts is the first step to assuming where they’re coming from with their feedback.
- Be humble with your work. Most of the issues that come with feeling attacked comes from our own ego, trying to protect you. Be conscious that first drafts are not always right, and give thanks after receiving feedback.
- Stop reading between the lines. Hidden agendas exist, but it’s probably not happening to you. Keep a clear head and avoid looking for a subtext where there isn’t.
Feeling attacked is a natural reaction; our ego is responsible for that. We need to begin understanding that work is not about who you are, but what you do. Once we begin to assimilate this fact, we will start having better work relationships.