This time of year, with playoffs coming, stress and pressure can get to people. Before you know it, teammates are letting minor disagreements get out of hand and the team can start to break apart. Finger pointing and prolonged petty disagreements are not the way to win championships. Think about the winning teams that you’ve seen. Even teams that don’t seem to have the talent to match up with their opponents win championships when they find powerful ways to work together.
What happens if you have a conflict with a teammate? What do you do if a player on your own team causes trouble for you and other teammates? We’ve shared prior blogs on dealing with challenging personalities and finding and building team chemistry. This time, we’re offering specific tips on what to do when you need to talk with one of your teammates about something he has said or done. Here are some suggestions for how to handle things before you talk, while you talk, and after you talk with a teammate.
Before You Talk
- Keep an open mind. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you know what anyone else is thinking and why. You can only guess.
- Decide what you want to happen after your conversation with your teammate. Make your goal realistic. Don’t have a goal for him to “be a better teammate.” Be much more specific. Maybe you want him “to understand that being so critical can hurt the team” or “to know why you want him to stop criticizing younger players when they strike out.”
- Be ready NOT to get mad even if he says something you don’t like. If you let your emotions get out of control, you will make things worse. Being prepared (just like on the field) can help you deal with whatever happens.
When You Talk
- Be direct. Talk about something specific that you saw or heard and why it bothered you or how you think it affects the team. Don’t say “stop being a jerk.” Be specific, say “yesterday you got on the younger guys when they struck out and then, they all started to press. I think they need your advice instead.”
- Listen to what your teammate has to say. If he gets angry, remind him that you all want to win and you need everyone to play their best. Make sure you understand his point of view.
- Talk about specific solutions. “If you see what the younger guys are doing wrong, tell them. If you don’t, let coach handle it. We need those guys loose this week.”
After You Talk
- Follow up on anything that you said you would do as part of the solution. Set an example.
- Hold your teammate accountable. Don’t drop it if the guy goes back to his old ways. Remind him privately about what you talked about. Don’t give up. Winners don’t give up on or off the field.