The Language of Teamwork

Don’t you get tired of people taking up positions rather than working together? Or worse, nodding their heads face-to-face, and then going on the attack outside the meeting?

I have been appalled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for years. Every media sound bite I had ever heard had her taking a position or on the attack. Here’s a typical one:

“…the Republicans were doing their what I call war dance of the handmaidens of the oil companies on the floor of the House a couple of weeks ago…”

That kind of namecalling can’t be good for promoting teamwork, or leading an effective government. Maybe it’s good for uniting one side against another, but whoever sits in the White House needs to be able to work with whatever Congress they’re dealt.

Tonight we listened to two men who want to be President. Nevermind their positions. Listen to their words.

McCain: “I’m afraid Senator Obama doesn’t understand…”
McCain: “I don’t think that Senator Obama understands…”
McCain: “Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand…”
McCain: “What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand…”
McCain: “Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn’t understand…”
McCain: “Senator Obama still doesn’t quite understand…”
McCain: “And, yes, Senator Obama , but what he doesn’t understand,…”
McCain: “And the Pakistanis are going to have to understand…”
McCain: “Now, I think the Russians ought to understand that …”

This is the language of a maverick. Someone who challenges, someone who isn’t going to back down until they make you understand.

Obama: “I think Senator McCain and I agree for the most part on these issues. Obviously, I disagree …”
Obama: “Senator McCain and I, I think agree on {topic of agreement}, but…”
Obama: “I just fundamentally disagree.”
Obama: “We do need {topic of agreement}. I do not agree with Senator McCain that…”
Obama: …”I think Senator McCain would agree”…

This is the language of a diplomat. Someone who can acknowledge disagreement and agreement. Someone who is going to give credit where it’s due, yet still hold their ground.

Obama’s words are what I want to hear in my own meetings. Those are the words that will get work done.

Getting work done is why we send these folks to Washington. I hope our next president is fluent in the language of teamwork.

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