When you hear this phrase, or find yourself thinking it, it is a sign that something is not well with your brainstorming session or collaborative work.
Someone is not feeling acknowledged.
Or someone is feeling threatened.
Acknowledgement is an affirmation, an expression of respect and acceptance. Acknowledgement can be expressed in different forms:
- Overt and direct: “Thank you for that suggestion. That’s a great thought.”
- Indirect: eye contact, laugh (with; not at!), smile, nod etc.
- Reflecting: “Ah, let me understand this; so what you are saying is…”
- Building on: “Oh yes, and if we add this and this to your idea, we can also…”
Feeling threatened comes in two forms:
“I felt that someone took credit for my idea.” Or in other words “I was not acknowledged.”
This is something to watch out for especially if you have introduced someone new into your team. I have seen a perfectly functioning team deteriorate into distrust when someone new came in; someone who is used to misrepresenting other people’s ideas as his own. Some workplaces seem to encourage this behaviour, by encouraging aggressive self-promotion and/or self-preservation at the expense of team effort.
“They did not agree 100% to my idea, or they want to change (build upon) my idea.” Both these sentiments ring true to certain personality types: Those who are grossly insecure about their abilities, or those with a narcissistic personality disorder. Both these types will see anything short of total and unadulterated acceptance of their ideas as personal attacks. Their egos and self worth are tied up in the “rightness” of their ideas. If their ideas were not “right” or “perfect”, they have failed as humans.
Unfortunately, other than consistent reassurances of their worth, there is little we can do to improve the situation where these personality types are involved. Over reassuring someone with narcissistic personality disorder can even backfire on your relationship as they could see it as a sign of weakness on our part.
Have I missed anything?
Have you ever been in a situation similar to one of the ones above?