Dealing With Difficult Team Members?

Defensive… opinionated… resistant… have you noticed how disruptive difficult team members can be? Whether they are dominating discussions, disrupting the flow of ideas, or just being disrespectful to others, these problematic individuals can create enough turmoil to derail even the best of teams. When anyone tries to correct them, they seem to become even more difficult, and they defend the very behaviour you want them to change! Leaders, as well as team members, need a new way to understand this disruptive behaviour so that they can motivate these individuals to turn their formidable energy away from their own agendas and toward advancing the goals of the team.

As we work together in teams, data comes in from our five senses…anything that it identifies as a stressor or a threat to our peace of mind, or to our success, the limbic system sends the data immediately down to the brainstem, bypassing the neocortex.

A new approach to this problem has its origin in recent developments in brain science. We now know that our brains are divided into three parts: the brainstem, the limbic system, and the neocortex, and each is responsible for different functions.

The brainstem (the lower part of the brain) is where our fight-or-flight responses are located. The middle of our brain is called the limbic system and is, for the most part, where our emotions are housed. In addition, it is also the part of the brain that scans incoming data for signs of threat or danger. The upper 80% of our brain is the neocortex, and this is where we have access to our judgment, creativity, and interpersonal and communication skills.

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