People often ask me what to do about party poopers. "What should I do if **I** am bought in to the Yes, And Workplace Mentality, but someone else isn't... and that someone is subtly sabotaging my best efforts to create a more collaborative environment?"
Here's the advice I most recently gave:
Listen with Curiosity. The good news is that this is entirely up to you. You don't need anyone's approval or cooperation in order to do this. If you listen like this person may still have something to teach you, despite their wet-rag demeanor, you are opening the door to new possibilities. Listening with curiosity is a core improv skill - it's essential for successful scene work. You cannot collaborate with someone you are judging. You cannot attract their best creativity, or get a glimpse at their best side if you don't believe it exists. If you treat this person like a creative genius, or at least like someone who's ideas are worthwhile, you are creating space for magic.
Here's what I tell every client and participant I interact with: we cannot sense everything that is true. The difficult people at work are more just the bad parts of themselves. Finding ways to access their good parts takes effort, but it's worth doing if we want to experience the kind of growth that only comes from high-level collaboration.
If you want a deeply engaged and motivated team, there's not any substitution for creating a highly collaborative environment. There's nothing else that can generate the commitment, creativity and RESULTS you can expect from people who are in an organically collaborative space. It's totally possible, and it starts with YOU.
So if you want to be the change in your office, I challenge you to commit to listening with curiosity this week. Make this commitment and think about it every morning before you head into the office:
This is how you give people - even people you don't like - the opportunity to surprise you. This is how you invite people to be more engaged, and raise the bar a bit. If you make this a habit, good things will happen.