How In The World Do People Even Work Together?

I've been working on myself for a long time. Professional development, personal exploration, books, classes, coaches, therapists. I've had more than one conversation about traumatic childhood experiences. And the better I get to know myself, the more astounded I am that strangers are able to work in the same environment and get any results. Or that people leaders are able to do anything to manage performance and morale.

We're all just real people walking around with our childhoods in our shoes. That time when I was 10 and I pissed off the wrong girl and she and her friends chased me and threw rocks? Yeah, I know that happened but it took me a long time to understand the influence it had on me as an adult. Mainly, don't say anything that might bother someone else. Guess how that guided me in my first boss role? I was nice but when "bad" news had to be delivered, I bungled it. The first couple of groups I managed did NOT like working for me. No help from my bosses above so I was clueless for a good long while, I'm sorry to say.

Leaders have exclaimed in wonderment, "My people are so different!" Yes. Yes, they are. And even more than you know. Some were neglected as children, some beaten, some given everything they wanted. Some were taught to speak up well, some taught to be assholes, some taught to shut up and listen. Some got good educations, some got by, some were taught by the world. Some made sure the group project got done and some checked out but got the good group grade. Some threw the rocks and some dodged them. Some of us had to wear the turquoise stretch pants with a stiff denim patch in the knee from being chased and falling down.

And then we put these people together in a building (or a group or whatever) and expect them to do their jobs with each other, communicate well, solve problems, deal with surprises, work hard, make the right kind of trouble or no trouble at all. Good grief.

I know I'm not saying anything new here. I know there are a gazillion books, podcasts, training programs, and thought leaders who address this. There are theories and frameworks and studies. But sometimes I see this stuff packaged into something corporatey, with a catchy name and a six-step process and I wonder, where are the real people in all of this?

That's it. Maybe we'll just stand here in the mystery and wonder of people. And try to do no harm.



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