It's my life!

Is it me, or are people relying on me too much?

I started writing this post about five days ago, but I was reluctant to post it. My heart felt that it was too personal. My mind rationalized that there will be those who might think that this is very insulting.

But, I think that this is an important learning lesson to me. And, I’ll post it here to hear your feedbacks. I need to know for reflection and learning.

To those who think that they might be involved in my writing this post, I would like to say: Yes, of course you are involved. Every day in our lives, the people we meet, the stories we hear, the things we see influence our thoughts. And, for the past two to three weeks, these group projects had consumed most of my student life.

So, as I struggle here trying to manage four groups. Oops, nope. Three groups. I thank my earlier, smarter self who delegated a leadership role to a very responsible guy (Thank you for making my life easier!). And, luckily for my Chinese group, my groupmates are pretty efficient (Europeans, got to love them!), and the job is more or less settled.

But, in the other two… tum-tum-tum-dummmm. There are many times when I feel that I’m the only one putting the extra effort.

During meetings, I tried to be enthusiastic because in my opinion, if I were energetic, the others would be motivated to chip in as well. Oh, how can that thought be so wrong? I quickly discovered that if I stopped talking, the entire room became quiet. If a crow starting cawing at that very moment, that would be the only sound that one would hear in the room. That silence unnerves me to death.

My mom who is studying counselling, later tells me that I should have let the silence further resonate in the room. Let the awkward silence pervade the room, and that would induce the rest to talk. My sister also told me that my groupmates could see that I’m of the responsible and dedicated type, so they are taking advantage of me. I hope not because I will not stay a doormat forever.

That’s not the only thing. When it comes to idea generation, why does it always seem that I’m the only one coming up with them? What happened to open collaboration? What happened to talkative people? What and where have I done wrong?

From the very first day of my taking up the leadership roles, I kept telling my groupmates to feel free to contribute, to feel free to speak out their feelings or opinions, feel free to email, feel free to initiate anything. My being a leader was just a supportive role, I told them. I thought being a democractic leader, it would induce creativity.

But, did it really?

Nope, it didn’t. So, to inspire them to do work, I proposed to meet every week. I write cheery emails. I set up work plans, Gantt charts, distribute work loads by further creating sub-groups for higher efficiency. And, I kept emphasizing that since we met up so infrequently, I hope that email communication would be rampant to promote idea-sharing and collaboration. But, did it happen?

Nope. Usually, the emails are generated by me. If the rest would have to choose a middle name for me, it would be Chrissy “Spam-generator” Phoong. Gosh! I know that emails are terrible communication methods, but with timetable clashes, what else can we do, but email?

I do not want to let this affect my equilibrium too much, but there’s only so much that one human being can do. One group expects me to read 80 journal papers in the next 4 days because of their reluctance to narrow the scope of the topic. Ridiculous, no?

I feel like preaching to them to think wisely, but considering that they are either my peers or hello, graduate students?, I will refrain.

Okay, so after all this dark rampaging, I need to ask and reflect:

  • Is it only me, or are people relying on me too much?
  • Why do they shoot down all my ideas, but don’t generate any ideas of their own?
  • Am I such a difficult person to work with? Too exacting?
  • Am I such a bad leader? Too friendly? Too nice?

I’ve learned that learning is supposed to be difficult. So, the more difficult this is, the more I can learn from this. But, for now, oh gosh!

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6 thoughts on “Is it me, or are people relying on me too much?

  1. Ques 1:
    Is it only me, or are people relying on me too much?
    Ans:
    In a capitalist economy, assumption = everyone is prioritising self-interest to maximise self-wealth. Thus, technically, this should create a country filled with hardworking and self-driven individuals. Unfortunately, the problem of ‘free riders’ would arise too. As these self-interest individuals priority is not to maximise their grades or rather to ‘leech it off’ someone better, they end up being as how it is today = parasites or shadows.

    Ques 2: Why do they shoot down all my ideas, but don’t generate any ideas of their own?
    Ans:
    Most people know what they don’t want but few truly understands ‘what they want’. Thus, people are better critics and solvers. A quote of the day to your fellow teammates: “If you are not part of the solution, don’t be part of the pollution”.

    Ques 3: Am I such a difficult person to work with? Too exacting?
    Ans:
    You need to ask that to your teammates. Everyone’s working style and expectations are different but the general bottom line of effective and efficient work procedures are quite standardise these days. Coming from NUS, it should be universally known that work quality should be better than average. After all, NUS is supposedly the top 30 university in the world.

    Spamming: I wouldn’t term emailing team-mates as spamming.
    1. as a team = COMMUNICATION = LIFE LINE!!
    2. no time = no meet up = if you don’t email to inform of progress or to keep track, how can coordination and efficient work management take place?
    3. their lack of effort in communicating/responding = they have pushed you to the edge of the world thus requiring you to constantly email them.

    Ques 4: Am I such a bad leader? Too friendly? Too nice?
    Ans:
    hmmm… being too nice may be a problem when you face ‘leeches’.
    Why?
    1. they would not appreciate your gestures (not that you are demanding it of them. But professional courtesy back would be consoling).
    2. they may not understand your POV with quality work. Thus blaming you for imposing such standards on your small shoulders
    3. the nicer you are, the more they take advantage of you. Unfortunately, nice can be abused when applied to the wrong crowd.

    SO!! the key!! Play nice. Play strict. Play polite. Play hard. Play ‘don’t you screw me over, cause before you know it, your butt is hanging over your head’.

  2. Oh no hope you are feeling better after writing it out k..it is good that you can still think positive!!! Don’t worry gal will support you always and your mails will never go to spam mail but the heart k…hugs

  3. One of my friends who went through this shared this with me, so I’ll share it here too:

    Group info managers are leaders:
    “Studies have proven that info managers in decision making and problem solving groups aren’t only responsible for managing ideas and discussion but also to stimulate contributions, facilitate communications, and integrate contributions into solution.

    They consequently become the leaders who also record all these info in the group lor.

    Sounds like once you launch into a task you become a jack of all trades in the team. Your situation has been studied. Guess human nature hasn’t changed!”

  4. Pingback: Teamwork – Authoritative or democratic? Or, neither? « The surfing butterfly

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