Try something new, it’s good for the brain.
That is what I have been told many a time, so when the opportunity to do a one day course came along on a day and time one could do, one did. Team Building. To make this more interesting, one was going alone.
Not knowing who was going, nor how many, put my system to into a panic. However, having been to the building several times before, and being in a larger size group in the room gave some calm to my mind. The room is quite spacious and even at capacity still feels like there is plenty of space to escape. Toilet facility and door sitings, the primary locations to look for in a new building, are known, and it has noting to do with Feng Shui.
The morning arrived, my stomach churned for hours before I made my way to the course, I nearly backed out, it would be easy to do. Truth be told, with it being run for people with mental health problems, it’s kind of expected, and what do I need with team building? Every ‘team’ I have been on, and it’s not many, have been dysfunctional at best and at worst…a bunch of individuals clumped together. Solitary, shy and introverted by nature, oh and antisocial now, thats me. Not the abusive neighbour or troublesome element of a neighbourhood, more the “he just kept himself to himself officer”, “such a lovely man” kind of person. Heck I have even been called antisocial on social sites due to my non interaction. Do I really want to build teams?
The course was run by a lovely young lady, genuinely enthusiastic, warm and welcoming. I was first to arrive, promptly choosing a seat furthest from the door facing, toward it. Two more came in and sat on the table in front, then Three came in together, two of whom I recognised, and sat at the first table. This is pretty representative of my social life, not in the ‘clic’, not on the fringes, just about in the room. Sometimes there are others, each circling the outer edges, occasionally bumping into one another, or into a group, jostling for a little while, then resuming the orbital path.
It was suggested that since a couple where know, I should sit with the first table, at least until the others arrived. Two more made Eight. Moved again, I joined three strangers on the second table. I was not looking forward to this.
Quite quickly it became apparent that this table was the table with the extrovert, bad enough, but he had an enabler, someone to feed his id, now I really started to question why I was there. I cannot speak for the fourth in the group, but his demeanour was that of a quiet reflect-full man also on his own, we were outnumbered.
Exercises to build ‘team spirit’ where a runaway, I have never been able to be heard against an extrovert. They run, I walk, if not sit. My ideas get drowned out by the enthusiasm extroverts create around them selves, at a certain point that energy is a repellant and I quietly drift back to the edge. This time however I was noticed, only by the course runner, but I will still take the notice, my ideas where heard and hints to the group were given, they were not heard though, the train had left the station and the passengers were chasing behind it.
The pattern repeated itself with each tasks, same old same old. Hints by the course runner could not have been more obvious to include, nay, listen to, the quiet ones, only to get squatted away like an annoying fly. I did things that I found uncomfortable, at one point I swear I was glowing with embarrassment. But I plodded along, right until the last task. A daft little task but my geek came out and it wanted to be heard.
Build a structure out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti, the tallest to stand on its own for thirty seconds wins.
What was being built lacked structural integrity, strength and geometry. I drew out a stronger design on paper, it was ignored, I tried to explain the reason why the structure being built would fail, it was ignored, or how I spoke was not understood, same result either way. I then went as far as an engineering example of what I was saying, and with the help of the course runner I was finally heard. Then ignored again. Having seen the strength in what I was saying, the extrovert upgraded his design, but he didn’t need the bits he did not understand, so I was ignored. I got stuck in this time and did the structural cross-members and support beams whilst arguing the point of having a solid base. It was not easy, but each success was seen and copied on the other sides. We became an ‘awkward first date’ team, stumbling along but managing; just.
I have, in my past, helped to break in a horse, and I had the bruises and cuts to prove it, for days after I ached. This was comparable.
Time was called and the structure stood firm-ish, the top layer had not been finished so it twisted around on itself but it stood up. We won. The course runner gave tips, the biggest for me was that I gave up to easy when I had the best idea, because I had the best knowledge on the subject. “You just need to boost my confidence in yourself” she said “and fight to be heard longer”.
The course next week …Assertiveness.
With the biggest class she has ever had!
Someone somewhere is takin the ….