Friday, December 21, 2012

re-framing touchy-feely

Last week I wrote about my team, The Provost's Council, having been through a retreat and beginning the task of building ourselves as a team...and the risks involved in becoming a strong team.  Part 2 of that retreat happened this past Wednesday when we shared with each other behaviors everyone did to improve the team's performance and behaviors everyone did to derail the team's performance.  It was not an easy exercise...but seemed to be incredibly beneficial to the team.  I was sharing this exercise with someone and they made the comment that the team on which they serve aren't into those type of "touch-feely" exercises.  I immediately felt a little bit defensive and asked the question, "What other term could we use rather than touchy-feely?"  Similar to the idea of "soft skills," touchy-feely has an incredibly negative connotation and many people (and teams) would see anything consisting of touchy-feely as a waste of time.  The exercise we as a team went through this past Wednesday was nothing close to a waste of time...nor was it easy and soft...nor was it something one does when they have nothing else to do...and it was certainly not (at least in the accepted sense of the term) touchy-feely.  It took took hard took took humility...and it took strength and will.  I don't think any of those terms are (or should be) associated with touchy-feely.

So how might we re-frame the phrase "touch-feely when exercises or events we do as a team?  Here are some random thoughts off the top of my head:

  • team building
  • encouragement
  • strength building
  • bonding
  • soul searching
  • exposing the dark side
  • persona completing
  • relationship strengthening
  • leadership capacity
  • self awareness
  • building team awareness
The next time I hear someone say to me that they do not like to or need to engage in touch-feely exercises in their team, my arsenal of replies will include:
  • "so you don't want to use all of the tools available to your team to make it better?"
  • "so optimum team performance is not important to you?"
  • "so everyone on the team is fully developed as a leader?"
  • "so the team is self-aware enough to monitor when it makes good and bad decisions?"
  • "so you would rather have a team that is less encouraging of one another than it can be?"
  • "so you don't want to build the leadership capacity of the team?"
  • "so you believe that everyone on the team is always making decisions from the purest motives possible?"
  • "so don't you want your team to be better tomorrow than it is today?"
If you have the need to keep using the term touchy-feely, I suppose that's okay.  Just be sure to say it in such a way that it exudes a positive connotation for team building...which leads to a better functioning team...which leads to a team getting more accomplished...which leads to a fuller living out of the organization's mission...which leads to healthier communities and a better world.  I don't know about you, but if The Provost's Council begins to function at the level we all believe it can as a result of the exercises we have been going through, then I'm all for touchy-feely...whatever that might mean!

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