Two human traits that stifle teams

November 22, 2017


Teams, by definition, should be collaborative and efficient. The flow of ideas, the exchange of information, and the constructive feedback process (giving and receiving) are the hallmarks of effective teams. Leaders and team members alike set the tone for how well this interactive process works. Listening and being comfortable with silence in order to give others room to express themselves, are very worthy skills to learn within teams, both for leaders and members alike.

     There are two particular human traits that will stifle the smooth functioning of teams:


     Impatience is a result of self-centeredness. It occurs when one’s own personal agenda (time and subject) supersedes the respect, contribution, and creative space of another individual. Impatience lingers in all of us. For some it dwells well under the surface and it is under adequate control. In others, it is just under the skin and erupts frequently and with full force. Some individuals are chronically impatient, and sometimes even use this as a tool to dominate and control. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatian Church, states that the opposite trait – that of patience – is in fact one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Patience, along with several other fruits or characteristics of Spirit-led people, prevents us from provoking each other or being envious.

Being overly opinionated

     Convictions and principled values are exceedingly important and honourable. However, being overly opinionated can cause friction on teams and can be destructive. Being opinionated is a close relative of impatience in that it tends to be a self-centered, “I am right,” perspective. Sometimes we do not intend to be overly opinionated, but our body-language gets in our way. Mannerisms when speaking, how we position our hands in conversation, our tone, or pitch of voice, and even our eye contact when engaging others can either project humility or a sense of being opinionated. Opinionated people seek to direct their views and ideas on others, sometimes aggressively. For those who are more timid, yet creative, it can be emotionally draining to wage another view over someone who is highly opinionated. The writer of Proverbs speaks to the “push-ahead” attitude of strongly opinionated people when he states; “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions” (Prov. 18:2).

     This is a call for all of us who are leaders and team members to be vigilant against these traits which, sadly, stifle creativity and progress within a team. The good news, though, is that they can be mastered and defeated. In fact, we chose to exhibit these traits and we also chose to control them. The Spirit of God will direct us in this journey.