Psychological Tricks to Be a Good Team Player

BY Tim Londergan
Featured image for “Psychological Tricks to Be a Good Team Player”

Whether you’ve taken the journey back to the office full time or have the option to work remotely, you still need to rely on people to get things done. Consequently, getting the attention and cooperation of co-​workers can be a challenge in this new work environment. Nevertheless, the time-​honored rules of office etiquette and the things you learned in kindergarten still apply. Being a good team player by conveying warmth and competence can make everyone’s workday more pleasant. In addition, you’ll find it’s easier to gain control when you learn to read subtle cues.

Learn to read co-​worker cues to be a good team player

Cues" is the title of the newest book by Vanessa Van Edwards, in which she shares the secrets of charismatic communication. Van Edwards is an author and speaker, as well as the leader of her research lab, Science of People. Importantly, this book reveals 96 cues that you should become familiar with to improve your communication and personal interactions. Likewise, learning these cues will help you to establish trust, demonstrate reliability and radiate competence. Going beyond simple body language, Van Edwards suggests ways to “hear” subtle gestures and use them to communicate more robustly.

Tips to master virtual communication

Few topics are timelier than how to conduct business more effectively in cyberspace. Interestingly, Van Edwards not only provides tips for conveying warmth and competence, but also explains the psychology behind the body language and gestures you see on the screen. For example, she emphasizes the importance of hand gestures and upright posture for better virtual communication. Furthermore, she provides insight for verbal and non-​verbal cues that can support your standing as a good team player.

Recognize and honor these four space zones

Regrettably for some, we must all personally interact with co-​workers and clients at some point. Justifiably, it can be uncomfortable to be in close quarters when we’ve experienced others at the requisite six-​foot-​safe-​distance over the past two years. Obviously, a good team player will honor personal space, but Van Edwards identifies four zones for your consideration.

  • Intimate Zone” – Less than 18-​inch separation. The author uses Seinfeld’s “Close Talker” episode to exaggerate this encroachment on personal space.
  • Social Zone” – Beyond 18-​inches to about 4 feet. This is a typical social conversation distance that promotes clear personal communication.
  • Personal Zone” – Beyond 4 feet to about 8 feet. This allows a comfortable distance for all parties to have room to relocate, mutually distance or close the gap.
  • Public Zone” – Beyond 8 feet. All parties have options to wave, gesture and/​or depart with no commitment.

Dealing with toxic people and having to fake warmth

Van Edward’s book is loaded with ideas and suggestions for being a good team player. Crucially, she covers vocal inflection, tonality, “priming words,” and even achievement-​oriented words for more effective emails. However, one overriding theme is the importance of being authentic. For example, when dealing with toxic people, we often feign warmth or pretend to like them. Thus, we are left with an unsettling dissonance. Instead, she suggests, let professional competence be the driver instead of insincere warmth. In other words, quickly get to the point, stay on task, be your authentic self, and move on.

How is your cueing?

It’s difficult to digest the information in Van Edwards’ book and not turn inward to look at what cues we, ourselves, are providing to those around us. The more we know about recognizing our own “tells” can help us navigate life. Similarly, the insight we gain can help us to be a good team player and improve our home and workplace for others. Consider the signals you send to others and challenge yourself to look for those cues hiding in plain sight.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash