Monday, August 16, 2010

Not A Team Player

At a recent office outing (a baseball game), two colleagues who I sat next to discussed the topic of "team players." Somehow, I had the impression that they wanted me to overhear.

In a nutshell, what they said was that people who isolate themselves -- or co-workers who do, at least -- are not team players.

At that point, I jumped in and said, "Hey, that's me you're talking about!" I wanted to say more, but they simply acknowledged that I was correct and then continued their discussion without me.

It seems that the prevailing opinion is this: if others aren't involved in your daily life -- if you don't socialize with them or get to know what's going on in their work lives -- then you're not a team player. But I think there are many ways to contribute to a team, and they don't necessarily involve being part of a corporate "family." Unfortunately, I think most people are uncomfortable not knowing what's going on with those that they share quarters with every day.

But why? Why is it that being part of a team means making everyone else comfortable while -- if you're an introvert -- making yourself uncomfortable? Why do others need you to become part of their group? As I'm sitting there enduring a company outing, a forced social event, an event designed to make everyone else comfortable in the workplace, I can't help wondering why no one ever designs events to make someone like me feel more comfortable. I want to tell my colleagues that I'd feel more like part of the team if they'd quit saying that, just by being myself, I'm not.