Being a shy person myself, I always have trouble jumping into new and unfamiliar situations. Meeting new people terrifies me. So you can only imagine what I went through when I met an entire new team of people at Humour Me. Don’t get me wrong – this is the kind of opportunity I’ve always wanted. I absolutely love performing and being around musicians, actors and other creative minds. Gradually I have come to learn that fitting in is not as hard as it seems. There are a few simple ways to make teamwork come easily:
1. Check In
The check in is something that is done at the beginning of the day. It is super important primarily because it forces everyone to zone in and wake up. Each member of the team says a little bit about how their day is going so far or about what happened to them the previous evening. The check in is a great way to make sure everyone gets a chance to say a little something about themselves while being assured attention from everyone else. Through the check in you won’t have to worry about being that quiet voice which pipes up occasionally but is instantly talked over. I found this exercise perfect for someone like me because (narcissist alert) awkward as I am, talking about myself is what I do best. Even though I was trembling I blabbered on about random rubbish I had done the previous day. Still, the team paid attention to me, which was pretty cool. It helped me feel like less of an outsider.
2. Warm up
The check in is followed by a warm up, which usually involves a physical activity which forces the team to move around and communicate. One of my personal favourites is a memory game which took the team hours to get right. There were times in the middle during which everyone’s frustration was almost palpable, but we ploughed through and finally got the hang of it. I tend to get a little competitive when it comes to games, but that’s where this game was different – there are no winners. The entire team wins or loses together. I know it sounds cheesy, but I swear it’s true. I think the point of these particular games was mainly to get comfortable with the rest of the team so that we learn to work together. Games are great ice breakers as well – you get to talk to people without having to worry about starting a conversation.
I have always been one of those people who likes to sit in the back and observe rather than participate when a group activity is going on. That’s why workshops are generally nerve-wracking for me. I think it might have something to do with the whole process of learning new things in a very short span of time and then demonstrating them in front of a group during which I inevitably end up making a complete fool of myself. But for all my fellow awkward people, here’s a word of advice – when it comes to workshops, the best thing to do is leave all your inhibitions behind and jump right in. Yes, it’s easier said than done but believe me, it works. The workshops that I got to take part in completely deconstructed my team’s ego, which was a good thing because it wiped the slate clean and put us all on the same level so that we could learn and move forward as a collective unit. For example, I recently went to a workshop in which the first thing I was told was that everything I thought I knew was irrelevant. It was blunt but true, as I realized by the end of it. If you are anything like me, workshops will force you out of your comfort zone. I once had to tell a ghost story in a workshop. Scary stories are really not my forte. But I still gave it a shot. The result was that instead of scaring anyone, I managed to make everyone laugh. Another time I had to pretend to be part of a working machine. I had no idea what to do. So I just stood there uncomfortably and made beeping sounds. Workshops are challenging and full of pressure but are ultimately worth it. They give you practical, actionable knowledge which is useful in the real world. When you next attend a workshop, try not to think of how you came across to everyone else and instead focus on how much you learned.
4. Chilling with the team
My experience as part of this new team did not end with just workshops and the usual team-building activities. We actually spent time together doing absolutely nothing. But everything from our casual chats to making fun of each other helped me to develop a sense of belonging. In a matter of a few days I already felt like I really knew my team. These relaxing sessions were more useful than they appeared because they made me feel comfortable and therefore I began to express myself more, which is important. In my experience, teams that chill together always work better.
5. Check out
The last thing we do is the check out, in which everyone talks about what they learned during the day. It’s interesting to see how different people interpret the same information. As far as I remember, no two check outs have ever been the same. Talking about what I learn helps me remember it better and also continues to chip away at my fear of speaking in front of a group. Through the check out, the day ends like it begins – with you surrounded by your mastermind group, but with an added sense of familiarity along with a little more knowledge.
Working with other people has forced me to step up my game and prove that I am a valuable asset to my team. To say that I have learnt a lot is an understatement. To be honest, I feel like a different person. This shy, awkward, nervous girl has evolved into a more confident human being who is learning how to be a leader. My days of skulking at the back of the group are coming to a close and it’s exciting. Every day has its challenges, but with the right team standing with me, I feel like I can take on the world.
Well, that’s it for now. But before you go, I would love to hear your check out! Did this help? I really hope so. Feel free to comment and let me know if there’s anything you want to add to help other newbies out there. Or maybe share some of your experiences of finding a way to fit into a team. Until then, stay creative!
Author: Aradhana Mathews