Most coaching, and even team facilitation, focuses on the individuals who show up for coaching, or are part of the team or family. When someone in the team or family plays the role of the disgruntled or angry voice, we tend to focus on THAT individual. I’ve worked with clients where the “complainer” was seen as the problem-child, and simply dismissed.

And this is really common, and pretty normal. I know of a business which had the archetypal disgruntled team member in the middle ranks (the folks that usually feel the most pressure without the power). Unlike everyone else on the team, he would confront quite openly (and rather unskillfully, unfortunately). I was curious. Here was a team that was largely silent, but in the silence was a lot of unspoken unhappiness. And a very impossible to ignore Voice of the Team was practically shouting out for change in the face of all that silence.

Easy to dismiss, as it’s uncomfortable. It makes us look at what’s not working. It forces us out of the comfort zone. And it holds up the mirror to an often uncomfortable truth. Systems coaching focuses on the Relationship itself. In the case of a team, we focus on the Team as an entity, that has it’s own climate, energy and dynamic. And its own intelligence and creativity. Learn to listen for the message from the system… often delivered in unskillful ways. Get rid of the disgruntled voice, and someone else will step up to play that role … until such time as that particular voice is no longer needed in the system, as the system has “auto-corrected”.

So instead of us rolling our eyes at unhappiness, or hiding away from conflict, investigate! Systems are naturally intelligent and generative… they have their own way of letting us know when change needs to happen, and what that change might need to be.

So, what IS that conflict telling us about what is trying to happen in the team, relationship or family? Let’s be CURIOUS because perhaps that disgruntled voice is a message from the relationship, asking for change.

(This article was originally published on LinkedIn)

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