Quote of the month: "If there’s a way to do it better ... find
it." Thomas A. Edison
Listen for Words That Bind
Briefings ideas that work
By listening to team members, you can tell how close they are to becoming
the cohesive group that will produce strong teamwork. Examples:
- "I need ..." means they’re still thinking as independent members of
the group. "We need ..." signals the crossover to team thinking.
- On teams of those from several departments, listen to how members
use "we," "us" or "our." As long as they use these pronouns to refer
to the functional group they came from, they’re still identifying with
that group. When they start using the pronouns to refer to the team,
they’ve made the needed transition.
- Listen for clues such as these that will tell you members are still
maintaining a social distance that will impede teamwork: They avoid
pronouns and use the passive voice. Example: "It has been found
during the product review process that the current design fails to meet
customer needs." They use formal language. Example: "This meeting
has been convened for the purpose of assessing the team’s progress toward
- When nicknames, slang and colloquialisms abound, the team has achieved
the social closeness every team needs. You’ll also hear things such
as, "Do we feel good about this decision?"
Source: Team Talk: The Power of Language in Team Dynamics,
Anne Donnellon, Harvard Business School Press, 60 Harvard Way, Boston,