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As a leader of a team, there is one problem that I continually face. The name of this problem is VTB.
First let’s talk about the problem. Many of us have either been on a team or have had the chance to be the team leader when someone seems to do all of the talking. It is something that I have labeled VTB that stands for Verbal Team Bullying. It seems that this one team member thinks that their ideas are the only ones that matter and they have the best of all ideas.
Now to be fair, I would like to pause for a moment and admit that I am a VTBer. I have the superhuman ability of completely taking over the conversation, meeting, or anything else that includes a group of people having a discussion. This has caused me to be banned from Sunday School classes, small group meetings, and many other events that include people talking.
So other than starting a support group where we all sit in a circle and try to avoid interrupting or dominating the conversation, is there a way to overcome VTB? I am writing you today to tell you that YOU (WE) CAN OVERCOME THIS!
So what are the steps required that allow others to voice their opinions? What self help book can we read? What does this tell us about ourselves?
I have tried many methods of overcoming this, and it is a tough condition to defeat. I have tried to journal my ideas while others were talking. I have set a goal of not talking until the last 15 min of the scheduled meeting. I have even tried the method of writing on my hand a reminder to “keep my mouth shut”. While all of these have assisted, none of these cured the VTB disease.
It was only through a recent conversation about the disorder where I found a workable option. It starts with learning more about my own personality and then learning about the personalities of others on the team. When looking deeper into the why I fall into the habit of leading a Conversation Coup d’état, I realized that taking over was never my intent. I have realized that it all boils down to me being an external processing person. I need to be actively involved with the conversation in order to process the subject. In those times that I try to remain silent or use one of my other methods, I end up checking out of the conversation.
So what can we as fellow VTBers, or those of us that lead teams that include a VTBer on it do to help the whole team. First we must admit the condition of “External Processing”. This is a personality type, and by condemning it, we could destroy the self confidence of that person. It would be the same of telling an introvert that they need to speak up, or they can’t be on the team.
As leaders, we need to create an environment that allows everyone including the external processors to process. This is harder than it sounds because you can’t just put us in a room and say “process” any more than you can put a creative person in the room and say “create”. External processors need push back and input from others.
Second, as team leaders we need to try and balance how ideas are presented. There are times for brainstorming, however; there are other ways to communicate ideas that allow those who are not external processors to express themselves.
This weeks challenge, figure out who are the external processors on your team. Are you that person? Either way be sure to take a look around your team during your next meeting. Is everyone able to express their ideas without being a victim of VTB? Create the correct environment for everyone to process the ideas.