Group problem solving – an important part of successful teamwork – is all about give and take. That means knowing how to give suggestions without hurting other’s feelings or making him/her angry. And it also means knowing how to take teammates’ comments without getting upset yourself.
-Keep it positive. Work to find a way to make your comments upbeat even when you’re criticizing someone else’s suggestion.
“Michael’s idea of putting signs on all the machines that require safety glasses is good. Some of the workers don’t read English very well. What about using a picture of someone wearing goggles?”
-Don’t get personal. You may think a suggestion is a poor one, unworkable, or even stupid, but the person who made it is just trying to be helpful.
Remember other people’s feelings. Instead of saying, “That’s a stupid idea!” try to find something of value in what’s been offered or suggest a change that would make the idea more likely to succeed. Talk about you objection, and the reasoning behind it, not about the personality of the individual who came up with the idea.
“I think Jim is on to something here. But staying for after-work sessions would be a real hardship for a lot of us – and it might even tick people off about the new policies.
I think we’d get people to cooperate with new safety policies better if we have lunch-hour meetings to explain them.”
-Stay in focus. It can be tempting, once you have people’s attention, to have your say about everything that’s on your mind. You’ll be more effective if you stick to one subject at a time. If you’re nervous about speaking in front of a group, write down what you want to say before you start talking – so that you don’t get distracted and start rambling.
“Before we go on to the next topic, I’d like to follow up Vanessa’s suggestion about a safety handbook. I think it’s a good idea, and I’m willing to help work on it. What do the rest of you think?”