Your teammates will show they care about you in very different ways—be open to all of them.

In my last post, I talked about the challenge of understanding a team member whose idea of respect is diametrically opposed to yours. Today, another common source of friction: different levels of emotion.


People have different needs and expectations about showing their feelings. Some people need time and space to discuss their feelings. Others prefer not to express their emotions–they just want pragmatic actions to make things better.

Consider two different responses to the news that you did not get the promotion you hoped for:

  1. A colleague expresses disappointment and says they feel bad for you. “I’m shocked you didn’t get that job. You must feel terrible.” They offer to take you for coffee to commiserate. OR
  2. A teammate asks what reason was given for the decision. When you respond that they said you weren’t poised enough for the role, she offers to help you with your resume and to rehearse for the interview next time.

-One colleague doesn’t care about you more than the other. They just have different ways of responding to the situation. But if you have a strong need to express your emotions and that pragmatist jumps right to fixing your resume, you’ll feel neglected. On the other hand, if you’re the pragmatic type and someone starts getting all emotional, you’re likely to feel awkward and uncomfortable.

The best answer is to share these insights about yourself with your teammate. “Thanks very much for your offer to help. Right now, what I’d love is to have a cappuccino and to think about something else.”

Understanding your own needs and how they either mesh or conflict with your colleagues’ will help you appreciate gestures that would otherwise aggravate you. Talking with your teammates about what you need from each other will change your team.

Further Reading

Crying at Work

How to Work with Emotional Data

Dealing with Negative Emotions

4 Responses to Your teammate is not weird part 2–emotion

  1. Margo

    Makes sense, but knowing what I need when I need it isn’t always easy! The Birkman Assessment we did has really helped me in this regard. Cheers!

  2. Pingback: Your teammate is not weird: Simple rules about respect | 3coze

  3. Pingback: How to work with emotional data | 3coze

  4. Pingback: When conflict gets emotional | 3coze

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