I Trust You

Last Thursday, I found myself standing about forty feet in the air, balanced on a wire, grappling Doug Avery's shoulder with my left hand and leaning heavily on Josh Chambers to my right. It's not often that I get to give the death grip to my co-workers, especially those who work from HQ, as I work from our Durham office. We were bonding on the first "challenge" of a high ropes course in Richmond, VA for Viget's quarterly out-of-the-office event.

Between Challenges, Still Up High

After lots of trust-fall jokes, we had ascended the structure to see what we were made of. The event went well (everyone completed all the challenges!) and we all had much to discuss on the van ride home. The observation that seems relevant to share here is my renewed appreciation for the perfect blend of "trust" and "communication" - the two most often cited strategies mentioned during our prep for the course. The combination seems to be a super-potent recipe for success.

Let me illustrate my point. The day after the event, I was part of conversation in which someone mentioned his hope that another person might soon figure out the simple task of creating paragraph breaks in her basecamp comments, or else we might all go crazy trying to read her feedback. A simple enough comment, but it struck me that it is our responsibility as team-members on the project to address the issue directly with the culprit, and we should do it soon. Why? Well, why not?

The reason we wouldn't tell someone something like this is rooted, I suppose, in a sort of kindness. We don't want to be rude and point out someone else's mistakes or ignorance. But I (re-)learned on that ropes course last Thursday that my team is not doing me any favors when they hesitate to point out my shortcomings. And the sooner my mistakes are pointed out to me, the better off we all are. Be kind, sure, but be real with me.

I know I'm not perfect and I know I'm making mistakes all the time. When Josh told me to stop sticking my butt out and to keep my weight over my feet, he wasn't criticizing me, he was helping me get across those dang wires. And when Doug said I should lean all my weight towards him, he was actually saying, "Trust me, if you do it this way, we'll both be better off." Surely the same message would be helpful to our long-winded, paragraphless friend - we have everything to gain and little to lose by telling her the truth. Or at least, that's how I see it for now.

So hurry up and tell me what I'm doing wrong so I can do better and we can all fly across these challenges.

(OK, so this a somewhat predictable, self-reflective post-ropes course blog post. But somebody had to do it! Vigeteers, did anyone else get some better wisdom??)

Emily is Viget's people director, hailing from our Durham, NC, office. She specializes in heart-to-hearts and asking questions that don’t have concrete answers.

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