Business 101

Play Nicely In the Sandbox

play nicely in the sandbox

Remember the days of how we could spend countless hours playing in the sandbox?  We would build the best sandcastles, mud pies, and cakes of the day.  I don’t know about you but mine even had birthday candles in it.  Broken twigs would serve its purpose-every time.   I’d make it with wet sand inside and dust it over top with dry to make my grand birthday cake.  Celebrating and singing is a happy memory, so, in the sandbox, I could create whatever moment I wanted.  So, I did…

Fast forward a few decades and I still look for the best playmates to play in the sand with.  I didn’t care what they looked like, it didn’t matter how old they were then, and I still don’t even now.  It was more important to me if they played well.  That thought holds true today.  Now, bearing all realities, we have all experienced that one kid that came up and threw sand instead of playing in it.

There were also those that thought stepping on your sandcastle was funny.  It even brought them utter glee.  All that hard work of building and building wasted.  Makes you want to throw some sand yourself.  Please don’t.

In the corporate world we have those project stomping, pot shot taking associates that make us think “Why are you in the sandbox and not adding to the build?” A better question still is why is this being allowed?  Which leads us to the next question.  How do you get them to play nicely and what can you do differently to get a better result next time?

Standing up for what it takes to get the project going doesn’t mean becoming a bully yourself.  It does mean neutralizing what’s going on.  That includes neutralizing how you feel.  Crying and wailing like we did as kids won’t help anyone.  No matter how the situation justifies it.  Neutralizing the situation requires being clear about what you want the outcome to be for the betterment of the project/client and everyone involved.

Standing up and confronting a difficult situation can seem worse than it is.  Suffering for extended periods with sand thrown and castle buildings crushed helps no one.  It affects everyone’s productivity and eventually, team morale suffers.

People don’t realize their effect.  Sometimes they don’t realize stomping on your castle doesn’t make them look stronger or smarter.  Give people the benefit of the doubt or at least a chance to understand what page you’re on.   After stating calmly-what you want to achieve, need in order to achieve and how others can help you achieve it.  Be ready to understand if this can be done.  If not, then it might be time to explore further help.

The process of reflecting at work and at play is only empowering if you do something with it.  Honour the process.  Do your best to exercise patience, patience, and more patience.  Keeping in mind old habits die hard but the big push it takes to get the wheel rolling will be worth it.

We can learn so much from watching kids play.  With some effort and practice equipped with the new skills – work can feel more like playing in the sandbox.

To learn more about Dealing With Difficult People, we suggest you contact the training division of our company – Mainstream Corporate Training and we can help you build better sandcastles: