What rules should be considered while communicating with your team?



Why is it important?

Before going through different rules, tips and tricks that you should be aware of in order to communicate in the best way with your team, it is really important that you also understand why these are important. For this, we have prepared a questionnaire in which you will have to reflect on how different interactions make you feel. In order to get the best results, please think about real circumstances in which you have faced those situations or try to imagine them as accurately as possible.

By answering the previous questions, you have also answered the big question: “What rules should be considered while communicating with your team?”. It is as simple as that! The things that are disturbing for you, for which you answered “Yes” in the first part of the questionnaire, will also be disturbing for others if you will act in that way. Respectively, the things you enjoy when others are doing will also be enjoyable for the team when you will start behaving like that.

To make things simple for you, on the next page we have provided a list of some of the rules you should consider while interacting with your team. But we will start here by giving you the most important of them all: “Put yourself in the other’s shoes!”. Do you enjoy it when the other person is showing interest in what you are saying, leaves you space to contribute, is also contributing himself, is polite, positive and smiling? Then you should also act the same when interacting with your teammates!


Process check

Sure, things sound great on paper and you are probably thinking that anyway you are following these rules all the time. They come as natural to most of us! Well, not exactly. It often happens that team members, for lacking time or skills or for being too concentrated on the topic, ignore these and the whole meeting turns into chaos. For these situations, we are providing you with a simple yet effective tool for insuring that your team is doing its best at having a good interaction: the “Process check”.

It works in a very simple way: whenever you are in a meeting freeze the discussions, take your list of rules that should be followed while working in a team and ask the members to answer to the following questions:

  1. Which of the rules is each of us managing to follow?
  2. Which of the rules is each of us not managing to follow?
  3. Which of the rules should the others pay more attention to?

Answering these questions will give your team members the opportunity to self-asses their own behavior in the group and also the chance of offering feedback to others with respect to the interactions that are taking place.

After the “Process check” the meeting can be resumed, not before asking the participants once more to pay more attention to the results of this short evaluation moment.

Keep in mind that it is not just what you are saying that matters. How you say it is often more important!


What rules to follow?

Here you can download a checklist of rules that you should be aware of during your interaction with other team members:

Checklist for progress check



Remember to do a progress check during your meetings




Practical exercise

Teamwork and active listening

Participants will be divided into groups of at least 7 persons (if the number of participants is not a multiple of 7, the remaining should be distributed evenly in the full groups). Participants will be told that they will have to represent different "secret agendas" in a debate about environmental issues, as the exercise will be about this. They should not be very obvious about this. In turns, one member of each group will be asked to come outside the training room but some of them will also receive a specific secret team role that they will have to play in a future discussion, as follows:

  1. First chosen of each team – these team members should act as the leaders of the discussion.
  2. Second chosen – these team members should interrupt the discussion often and get over engaged in it, not giving space for others to contribute. They will also have to secretly represent the interests of oil companies.
  3. Third chosen – these team members should be a very rude team member (e.g. telling others that they have really stupid ideas, not worth taking into consideration). They will also have to secretly represent the interests of glass companies.
  4. Fourth chosen – these team members should be uninterested with the discussion and even distracted from it (e.g. by checking the phone, temporarily leaving the discussion, etc.). They will also have to secretly represent the interests of paper companies.
  5. Fifth chosen – these should be observing the discussion and will receive the observation sheet on which they will have to write about what they notice.
  6. Sixth, seventh, (eight)... chosen – these team members should be moderately interested in the discussion. They will be told that they have to secretly represent the interests of different environmental groups (e.g. groups wanting to ban all plastic packaging, groups wanting to ban car access to cities, groups promoting renewable energies).

Please remind each group that it is important not to be very obvious about their secret role (the ones that have it) and their secret agendas.

Teams will afterwards regroup (each team will have a leader, someone that interrupts, a rude person, etc... – according to the roles) and will be given the task of finding a solution to the environmental issues affecting cities.

The debriefing will concentrate on the dynamics of this discussion, what were the positive aspects and what should have been different. You will first ask the leaders to reflect about their experience, then the participants with no secret roles (from group 6,7,8, etc.) and observers. After asking the debriefing questions, you can also reveal the secret roles and explain to the participants that they should not be upset with the others, as they were just doing what they were told and normally they are not like this. Starting from these reflections, conclusions should be drawn with respect to what is needed for a good communication in a team and the hand-out “How to have good communication in your team?” should be offered.

Questions for the debriefing:

- How was it to debate the issue? Was it difficult to work in the group?

- What did you enjoy about the debate?

- What did you enjoy less about the debate?

- If you were to repeat this, what would you like to be different about the engagement of the group members? How could the debate be improved?

Here you can download a checklist for the observers:

Checklist for progress check


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