Minimize the Mess

I once passed out while I was pouring myself a glass of milk. When I came to, one of the first things I noticed was that the milk carton and glass were sitting upright on the kitchen counter. But the last thing I remembered was both of them in my hands, so they should have been on the floor with me. My brain couldn’t keep me from falling flat on my face (literally), but it did somehow manage to keep me from having a huge mess to clean up when I got back on my feet.

That’s what a great team can do.

They may not be able to keep you from making the wrong decision or submitting something your boss absolutely hates. But they can, and in my opinion should, do what they can to minimize the mess you may find yourself in.

If you’re on a team that doesn’t take the carton and glass from your hands on the way down, here are a few ideas to keep things upright, for both yourself and others:

  • Send a note offering them whatever they need. If they accept, they’ll likely request something small you can help with, or something you could use too (like a 15-minute walk and coffee break). And if they don’t accept, that small gesture may motivate them to extend the offer to you when you need it.
  • Congratulate and compliment. When you fall on your face, it probably feels like everything is wrong, when in truth it’s just your face that’s hurting. Your feet are perfectly fine. In fact, they’re enjoying the break from holding up your weight. Remember that: when one thing is bad, other things are probably good. If a fellow team member’s face is hurting, congratulate and compliment how fantastic their feet have been. And if no one else is doing it for you, remember to do it for yourself.
  • Solicit laughter. Tell a joke, send a funny e-card, forward that video of the chameleon walking in unison with the rap song. Work is just work, though we often forget that when we’re in the midst of a mess. Seeing or hearing something funny brings us up out of that serious-stressed mode. And even if you’re the one most in need of a smile, finding something funny to share will take your mind off the mess and lessen the stress. (Okay, I swear I didn’t mean to rhyme, but now that I have, let’s say it out loud, like a rap. And now imagine a chameleon…)

What do you for team members, or what have they done for you, to minimize the mess?


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