Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset: Lobbying Your Allies

Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Johnathan Lim (23S03M) and Sabrina Tong (23S03Q, Peer Helper)

Cover image by Johnathan Lim (23S03M)

Your resident Aunties and Uncles are back with our Ask Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset column, this time as a collaboration between Raffles Press and Peer Helpers’ Programme (PHP)! Ever wanted to rant about that someone you just can’t stand? Overwhelmed with too many feelings? Submit your confessions to https://tinyurl.com/riadvice and we’ll give them our best shot. This column will be published at the end of every month. 

What to do if I feel like my teammates are not as invested in our project as me? We have a tight schedule yet they ignore me when I say I want to get started on planning concrete and only focus on their vision… What should I do? I can’t do everything by myself.

Diligent Dylan

Dear Diligent Dylan, 

Picture this: You are on a battlefield with the enemy frontlines (the deadline) approaching. You tirelessly fend off the enemies (progress with the project) with all your might. You look to your comrades (teammates) and see them… partying?

Sometimes, the downfall of a project is not because of a mountainous workload or tight deadlines, but because of an unmotivated team. 

But you can’t and shouldn’t fight this battle by yourself. Here are some ways to convert your fellow partying comrades into productive ones!

A shot at diplomacy

Of course, we all prefer to handle this situation with diplomacy rather than waging war, so talk to them! You may be thinking, “duh”, talking to them is such an obvious “solution”! But before you click out of this article, have you wondered about how to “talk” to your team?

Poker face

While you feel like strangling them, you cannot show that you feel like strangling them. Instead, demonstrate your laid-back, cool demeanour.

Start with a witty joke about the ever-approaching deadlines. Or complain about your enormous workload, and explain that you might (very unfortunately) have to rely on them a little more for the project. 

Perhaps they have been so caught up in their own lives to even realise you were doing that much work. 

And maybe, just maybe, that might be enough to awaken their drive to help you with the project.

Get a piece of their mind

Get to the root of why your comrade’s low morale. Try asking open-ended questions like  “How are you coping?” or “Is everything okay recently?” to get them to open up and share some (potentially valid) struggles they may be facing.

Listen to them without judgement or downplaying their struggles. 

What to and not to do when listening to someone.

You could make them feel heard by paraphrasing the gist of what they said back to them. It shows that you are listening (despite it seeming like it isn’t contributing meaningfully to the conversation).

Don’t offer your unsolicited advice on how to resolve their issue. Their struggles are not the focus, their feelings are. And more often than not, they just want to feel empowered enough to solve their problem themselves rather than have you solve their problems for them.

Try to empathise with your teammates and understand their struggles. And maybe, they might also come to understand your struggles (the project).

Impose your (righteous) totalitarian rule 

You might feel your (righteous) fury. Why not channel that anger into one that demands change. Take charge (since no one else is) and make strides in the project.

Delegate Work

Start planning for the project and weave them into your plan. Announce to them their newly assigned work with the deadlines you’ve set for them. 

Don’t be afraid to give them important tasks. After all, most people would feel more pressured to work when the weight of the project is on their shoulders. 

Accountability through contractability

Sit your group down and set some agenda. Open up a document and concretise the group’s goals and (self-imposed) deadlines. 

Bombard your group chat with frequent “friendly reminders” about the ever-approaching deadlines. Perhaps it may instil the sense of urgency you feel about the project work, in them.

But what if, despite your attempts at a relatively diplomatic approach, your comrades are still “slack” as ever?

A Necessary Escalation

Sometimes, issues can be solved with simple negotiation. But we can only wish things were always that simple. And during these other times, one has to turn to more serious actions.

All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them but confront them.” 

 William F. Halsey

Apart from showing them this article, here are the “serious actions” you can consider.

Give them a piece of your mind

Lobby your allies, confront your teammates privately.

How to and not to approach a confrontation

Use “I” instead of “you” sentence to shift the narrative from their fault to your struggles instead. (You’ll sound less angry and easy to sympathise with)

But on the off-chance that you are angry, pick another day!

Employ third-party intervention

Reinforce your stand by employing powerhouses (namely, your project’s teacher/person-in-charge)

Let your teacher-in-charge know of this issue. Then, arrange for a time where everyone is free (including your teacher-in-charge) to set goals for the group. 

The powerhouse’s presence ensures your teammates’ commitment and accountability for their part of the project. And if so happens your teammate doesn’t follow through, they’ll just have to answer to the fearsome powerhouse.

The aftermath

At the end of every battle comes the aftermath. Good or bad.

Perhaps you gritted your teeth through the battle (rushing the deadline), and now you are rewarded with sweet sweet victory (stronger friendships, completed project). 

Of course, on a bleaker note, your project may have collapsed, and your friendship with your teammates may have crumbled. But at the very least, you can find solace in the fact that what you tried to salvage was an unwinnable battle.

Sincerely, 

Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset

If you need anyone to talk to about any issues you might be facing, do drop by My Rest Space near Marymount gate and talk to one of our peer helpers! We’re open on Tuesday from 2.30 – 4.30 p.m, Wednesday 11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m., Thursday 2.30 – 4.30 p.m. and Friday 1.30 – 4.30 p.m. If you would like to meet a peer helper on a regular basis, do email us a request at rafflesinstitutionphp@gmail.com or fill in our request form at our website https://rafflespeerhelpers.wordpress.com!

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