Will you be quiet?! she snapped angrily.
It wasn't as much question as plea.
Not long ago I sat in a room with half a dozen others wrestling through an intricate problem. In the end we solved many questions but still had a few left. Long meeting.
At one point it was getting excited as people with different needs were clashing to make their points. This happens. Anyone can have a point of view, but when you have a need – a compelling “to-do” on your list – the genial nature of view can give way to the brutal reality of competing agendas.
One of the participants had had enough.
Depending on your environment “snapping” at someone is a relative thing. Having worked primarily in the high tech world I can tell you this form of mild rebuke would have gone unnoticed in those. Every culture is different.
In the board room I sat in though the mood was much more reserved and now stilled.
The plea to be quiet hit us as if someone had done something unseemly in an elevator with only three people on board.
Work continued in a stilted way since the norm of the group – congeniality – had been broken, and people were now unsure of boundaries. The formality of the reseve so important to this group has been broken. As meetings go it wasn't the worst yet, when people take things personally group work and process can become strained at best, threatened at worst.
Interpersonal challenge at work causes each of us process differently. Cross words in a meeting may not strike you as a challenge, but can represent the tip of an iceberg with unhealthy group dynamics lurking just below the surface. Resentment can linger.
So how to move on?
Some put their heads down burrowing ever deeper, working even harder trying to overcome the bump in the road by losing themselves in task.
Some tune in and drop out as Dr Timothy Leary might have said getting lost in their own little world ignoring new feedback and input as they then break contact with others.
And yet others barge on unconcerned and uninterested in feedback or in what caused their teammate to lose their cool.
Let It Go
Perhaps the best we can do is take meaning from a message yet stay in the moment. How?
Let it go.
We receive feedback and input daily. Much of it is fuzzy like the static on an old am radio dial, so its best not to overthink it. Examine the value or relevancy of feedback leaving your feelings aside and move on.
Let it go.
Each new day brings challenges and demands we can meet only if we're fully focused. Hanging on to the aftertaste of a bad meeting or a strained exchange with a coworker will do us no good.
Input, yes: dwell, no.
Be open to messaging from your coworkers while recognizing its not always about you. Take meaning not umbrage as you search for your next step.
To play in the present you've got to stay in the present.
Let it go.