Mary’s marriage is falling apart after a more than two decades. This weighs heavily on her soul and makes her irritable. No one she works with knows this.
James’ kids are being bullied at school. They have nightmares about it so the family is not sleeping much. The school responds slowly. James feels like he is failing as a parent and is angry. No one he works with knows this.
Faith was abused by a family friend growing up. And now is in an abusive relationship. She a master at disguising any marks on her body when she goes to work. She hates men but no one at work knows her story.
Max had an idyllic childhood, has great relationships with his family still. He’s happy but quiet. No one knows about his story.
All four of them bring their experiences to their team. On paper they are a brilliant team with complementary skills and great experience. However, tension fills every meeting they have. And they often clash, at times rage is present. Some of them think it is their fault, some think it’s another’s, and some are confused.
This happens all the time in workplaces. We all have ‘stuff’ going on in our personal lives or in work lives that impact the other. And yet often we don’t know what is happening in another’s life. So we take responsibility for anger that has nothing to do with us. Or we assume we’ve done something wrong or that the other is an idiot.
Everyone has a back story. Everyone has more going on in their lives than we will ever know. And this is absolutely critical to remember when engaging people in change.
What we can do is take responsibility for our own ‘stuff’. And not bring it to work or bring work home. However, that is incredibly difficult as we are not separate people. But we still can take responsibility for it and learn to manage it. Perhaps we need to learn to dance with it. Dance with our own ‘stuff’ and also dance with others. Dancing only works if we are light on our feet and if we learn to move in multiple directions depending on the music and who else is on the dance floor.
I’m nervous today with the anxiety also at my door. And I tend to be extra short and direct in these situations. But I’m trying to dance with it because my nervousness and anxiety has nothing to do with anyone I’m working with today.
How about you?