Team Building Lessons from the Modern Cave Man – Part 2

By Arthur F Carmazzi

-Continued from Part 1

You’ve learned the first stage of TEAM Eevolution. Now…

Stage 2: Soothing the significant caveman


Now the caveman in you has become more expressive. You tell people what you want and how it should be. The problem is they react to you. There are two types of reactions you receive:

1. If you speak out with little confidence and conviction, you have only evolved in actions and not in mindset. Others react to you with insignificance; they make you wrong or unimportant. They do not pay much attention to you and you will accomplish little. Your actions are the beginning but you must be consistent and find your conviction. Imagine the alternative if you do not… Extinction!

2. You have the conviction and the confidence and now need to show how great you are and how much better than everyone else your ideas and abilities are. Others react by rebelling, some rebel externally and create open conflict. Others rebel internally and while they quietly go along with what you say, they feel that you treat them with insignificance, that you make you wrong or unimportant. Here your ability to overcome fear of not being accepted has brought you to this stage, but now you must learn to apply it effectively.

You are at stage two because your significance is central to your being, you tend to react to others that “appear” to take it away from you. This creates confrontation and brings out the caveman in your other team members. Then they react back and just make a big mess! So before you can transcend to stage three, you must awaken to the reactions that YOU create. Knowing you weaknesses is the foundation to your evolution. FIRST though, you need to admit you are the cause of much of this reaction. IT’S NOT OTHER PEOPLES FAULT! Don’t make others wrong so you can be important! You need to take full responsibility before anything can change. You can find other more productive ways to fill your need for significance.

Significance is about feeling important, so what if you had the power to make others feel important, the ability to bring out the best in them, their passion, and their motivation? Would you gain gratification from this power? Would you get significance from the better overall results that could be achieved?

Stage 3: Keeping the caveman away from your team

The caveman shows up when your modern (intelligent) brain shuts off. The more you can keep it on, the less time the caveman spends with your team.

Remember, when the caveman shows up, he brings out the caveman in the rest of your team members. And before you know it, you’ve got a group of cavemen either beating each other or hiding in the background. So STOP IT! The key to using the Intelligent part of your brain, is to map the areas that might cause reaction and tagging them with a “caveman alarm”.

Write a list of issues that make you frustrated, angry, submissive, fearful, etc. Put this list in a place where you will often see it. There is a part of your brain that retains this knowledge in your subconscious, so when one of these issue comes up and you begin to react (using the primitive part of your brain), you remember the list and you remember that you may be letting the caveman out. At this time the intelligent part of your brain kicks in and allows you to work through the issue in an evolved manner.

Stage 4: Evolving into the awakened team member

By this stage you can stop the caveman from coming out in you. You have gone beyond your primitive emotional reactions to “fear of not being accepted” and “fear of not being important”. You don’t always need to be right, and you don’t make others wrong. You don’t avoid conflict because you’re afraid others won’t like you or your need to belong.

You have awaked to an evolved individual that can think and act without fear, an individual that gives value to the team instead exploiting them for your personal emotional gratification. You take action in place of reaction. You have cultivated the courage of an evolved individual.

But many of your team members often still react. At this stage, you understand them more, so you don’t react to their reactions. You can use the intelligent part of your brain instead of the primitive reactive part. So how can you affect those around you that do react?

Look at the way you express yourself. Knowing that that caveman can appear in others instantaneously, how would you communicate when others react, what would you do or say to make the caveman in these team members go away?

Well first, you must identify what stage in evolution they’re at. Knowing this gives you the understanding of what they fear. Do they fear losing their security and acceptance the team provides, or do they fear being unimportant, insignificant? This knowledge provides the platform for you to help them fill these emotional needs and put aside their fears.

Second, give them this article for disclosure of your intentions and awareness of what’s happening. If you all have the same understanding, it becomes easier to achieve results as a team. And, as this Team centered article is based on the Directive Communication psychology, attending Directive Communication based workshops would accelerate the process.

Finally, use questions to fill there emotional needs of belonging and significance. Ask questions, DO NOT teach or lecture. Discover how your team members fill these needs and how the team can support each member in achieving them without the caveman.

The journey to the evolution of highly effective teams is scattered with the angry beatings and quiet disillusionment of cavemen everywhere. Effectiveness is against our nature. Only in the face of our inadequacies can we evolve, can we increase our ability to be intelligent in our actions, and can we assist others in there evolution.

The advantages of this growth is a happier, less stressful, and more productive life.

The consequences of not evolving, are a life full of reaction, stress and un-fulfillment.

The caveman will always be in you, the question is do you really want him around in your teams, friends, and families?

Today, evolution is a choice.