Coming Out of Your Shell During Team Debates

For the past few weeks, we have been working in one room as a team, instead of in a shared space with other companies. The reason for this change is so that Sabina, Tom and Melissa can work more efficiently on writing the Dance Floor Theory book. I’ve been listening in to their weekly meetings, but usually stay very quiet. I put my head down and work on other things. I do this for three reasons:

  1. My job is sales and I am not a co-author of this book so my sales work comes first.
  2. It does not feel like my place to interject as I have not been in the process from the beginning.
  3. I HATE debate settings. Even in high school, during debates I would get extremely anxious.

Social anxiety is extremely common for women in my age range. According to Barends Psychology Practice, “1.5 to 2.2 times more women than men have social anxiety” that gets in the way of them doing something.

But for the first time, I spoke up the other day in one of their meetings. The particular topic of discussion had led to a heated debate. But I finally felt comfortable interjecting because I had valuable things to share. The issue at hand was: Do you keep people in your work place who are not “5s” at engaging, but might be very productive in their work? If you are familiar with Dance Floor Theory, you know that a 5 is a person who is typically most successful and most engaged in the work place. The disengaged people are the Neutrals and 1s.

My father is an accountant for an accounting firm and is a true rock star at his job. In his 26 years at the company, he has climbed the corporate ladder in every sense of the word. But is he a 5 at engagement? Absolutely not! Sorry dad….but I get my social genetics from mom. He would much rather come home, drink an old fashioned, and watch an episode of Game of Thrones than go out with a client for work. He takes clients out because he has to, not because he wants to.

I told this story to my team and talked to my dad about it. He said, “Oh I would 100% rather keep the rain maker who excels at his job, rather then the person who is good at socializing. People can usually fake it through the social part if need be, but you can’t make someone be better at their job.”

The team valued my input for this situation. This debate led to all team members talking about their ideas, which then sparked a Facebook Live episode.

Harvard Business Review studied 200 employees, and on average most people felt more comfortable following the motto, “When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.” As I gain comfort within the team and feel more that my opinion is also valuable, I will shy away from that motto to improve the book.

Here is a list of reasons I felt comfortable:

  1. The conversation was bouncing around from each team member and not just between two people.
  2. Other people were sharing personal stories- so I felt I could too.
  3. I had valuable input since my dad is in the corporate world.
  4. When someone is the group spoke, no one else spoke over them.
  5. Even though the energy in the room was high, I felt safe to speak because no one was attacking anyone.

Now that I broke the ice, I will absolutely interject when I feel like I can add to the discussion. If you feel there are people on your team afraid to speak up, try to implement the above conditions.

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