The team has been stalling for a while. They come together in meetings to discuss what seems to be their work. They struggle with one another; they share their ideas and make plans. Coming out of the meeting they feel happy and see themselves as having achieved a lot. All of them have been able to speak up, share a bit of how difficult things are for them, and they have given each other advice.
For them, the meeting has been slightly stressful, but they are happy with themselves. Individually.
What they didn’t address was, what will happen, and what they will do.
They imagined it, but they didn’t talk about nor shared it.
They feel comfortable telling how difficult things are, that is, how little others do, or how complicated these people are. They also feel comfortable sharing advice about things they believe are the right thing to do.
What they didn’t share was how they are struggling to know if what they are doing is the right thing for the organization. They also avoided sharing what they want to do and once they shared a need, they refrained from sticking to their request, adapting to the opposition they sensed.
At the core of it, is anxiety.
What will happen if I ask for something and it doesn’t serve the purpose as well as I hoped for?
What will happen if I share what I want to do if the others don’t see it as part of the way the organization does things?
What will happen if the others see that I’m not sure I’ve understood everything well enough?
At the core of it, is the fear that others may not appreciate what they do, look down on them, or bluntly reject what they shared.
With so much anxiety present, when it comes to talking about their work, everyone has learned to avoid sharing their own position. They settled into telling the other what they should do while seeking to find the right wording that doesn’t frighten the other. And when it becomes too stressful to address the other, they stay silent.
Their own level of anxiety has become their measure for good meetings.
The less they experience it, the more they see themselves as empathic.
What they don’t see, is how they project their own anxiety and fear of not reaching their results onto their clients and the environment. Whenever problems appear, it is the customers who cause them.
Looking away from anxiety gives it all the power it wants.