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In the Spirit of Teamwork
Elayne Savage. Ph.D. -- The Rejection Expert Elayne Savage. Ph.D. -- The Rejection Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, March 1, 2023


I was excited to see a headline of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries deciding to team up by creating a bipartisan task force. 

Even the thought of Congressional teamwork feels like a breath of fresh air after so many months of disrespect and antagonism and fighting between the the parties. 

This task force is to ensure there would be due process going forward on House committee removal –– which has been done recently in what I felt were pretty shoddy ways.

The Washington Post wrote: The task force represents a step toward a truce between the two parties, which have spent a significant amount of time over the past two years punishing lawmakers by depriving them of their committee assignments.”

To me it sometimes felt like abruptly pulling the chair away just as someone is about to sit down.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to negotiate  a way to steer away from retaliations and dissing in the future and to stay respectful!

Seeing this plan for Congressional teamwork reminds me of how teamwork seems to have become a popular theme of many of my sessions with couples, families and workplace clients.

Interestingly there seems to be a more than usual recent desire for teamwork between the couples and families and workplace clients. More then I usually see in my 40 years of private practice.

Hmmmm. So maybe it is time to blog again about respect and teamwork in relationships. Respect of course is a frequent focus of my blogs because it is the opposite of feeling dissed and rejected. 

So let’s re-visit some teamwork highlights:

Fifteen years ago I wrote Relationship Lessons from Yosemite how sights and experiences in Yosemite can be a metaphor about relationships.

- giving and accepting respect?

- the ability to trust?

- allowing sincerity, honesty, authenticity and vulnerability?

- the capacity for teamwork – working and playing together.

All of this woven together by open and direct ?communication.

Sixteen years ago I wrote  Cozying Up to Teamwork - A Key to Successful Relationships where I offered a definition of teamwork for couples:


"Providing support and ?satisfactions for each other in mutually fulfilling ways . . . . ?This collaboration includes flexibility, willingness to resolve ?conflicts, the ability to work and play together, and consideration ?of the needs and goals of your partner."

In the Spirit of Teamwork

In my work with couples, I encourage them to roll up their ?sleeves, put their heads together and come up with some creative ?ideas for getting things done. 

We look at it in the spirit of ?teamwork and cooperation. 


Then we take a good look at how teamwork can enhance the ?relationship:

??- What does teamwork mean to each one? 

?- What does it mean to be 'a good team player'? 

?- What are their goals? Individual and together?

?- What are their expected outcomes? 

?- What are their challenges? 

?- How can they work together effectively?

- What situations work best? 

- What might get in their way?

- Are they communicating clearly? 

We explore the ways teamwork already exists in their ?relationship. Then we look for ways to enhance what is already ?there. ??

We look for a way or two that they are already a good team. Maybe ?one helps with the other's business, or is supportive of projects ?and endeavors.  Maybe they're a great team at planning parties or ?meals or trips. Maybe they even travel well together. Or share ?parenting decisions or functions.

??- Can they identify the areas in which they are already a ?good team?

?- Can they employ teamwork and/or team building skills learned in professional areas of their lives?

?- Can they take these personal and professional skills and ?transfer them to a new area that needs some good teamwork ?  ?

Teamwork in Personal and Professional Relationships

Good teamwork skills exist in both personal and professional ?relationships:


??- recognizing each other's strong points 

?- valuing and respecting each other 

?- agreeing to fully participate

?- working together cooperatively

?- identifying how each person is part of something larger than him or herself

?- understanding how each one fits into the bigger picture?

RESPECT is a Key Ingredient Here


By respecting ourselves, we can ask directly for what we need and ?want in the way of cooperation from the other person.??By speaking respectfully to the other person, you increase the ?chances for successful teamwork. 

Sometimes it is difficult to  respect and accept someone's ?style of doing things when it's different from your own.

You each grew up in different families with different styles of thinking, communicating, doing, creating and being. Sometimes there are also cultural influences— attitudes, beliefs, rules, values, and expectations. These family messages are passed down from generation to generation – sometimes non-verbally. ?

APPRECIATION is Important TooO


Sometimes it's the small considerations and kindnesses that our ?partner does. These could be meaningful if only we would notice ?them and give appreciation. "Thank you" goes a long way toward ?developing connection. However, first you have to observe them.??


??- Listening to each other's ideas and concerns

- Respectful Questioning

- Respectful Persuading when appropriate

?- Clear, unambiguous communication?

Oh there’s that ‘communication’ word! On my intake forms for couples and families the most common answer to ‘Why did you decide to come into therapy now?’ is “communication problem.”  Same is true regarding workplace clients.

We all want to be listened to and heard and understood and connected.

Unfortunately many of us grew up with confusing and even crazy-making ?communication models. Maybe people said one thing and seemed ?to mean another. Maybe things just didn't get said, only hinted ?at.  Maybe we were expected to somehow read someone's mind. ??

Some of us never learned how to communicate clearly and ?directly with another person. We struggle to say what we mean ?and also to make sure the other person is hearing and understanding us.?

And it’s not easy to make sure we understand what the other person means because growing up in our families we never learned how to check out their words.

We tend to ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ with our own assumptions with assumptions due to lack of skills to check out intent and meaning. 

And too often we take it personally!

I teach a simple 3-step way  to initiate clarification:

“This is what I heard you say ———————————.

Is it what you said?

Is it what you meant?”

This gives the other person two different opportunities to make sure their intention is clear.


And when it's time to be persuasive and negotiate agreements, ?here are some tips:

??- Be direct. Ask for what works best for you. Trite but true:   If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'

??- Be direct. Turn complaints into clear statements of what you ?really yearn for. Under every act of complaining is a yearning for something to be different. Your job is to know what that something is and ask for it.??

- Be direct. Don't just cross your fingers and hope the other person will read your mind. You'll only be disappointed. And disappointment often feels like rejection!?? 

Learning to be direct gives you a ticket to success. I believe the ?many inquiries I receive about my communication coaching reflect ?the optimism out there. Folks seem optimistic that communicating ?clearly and directly is do-able with a little coaching and a lot ?of practice. ??

I see it this way, Good respectful communication is the foundation of good teamwork.?And good teamwork is the foundation of successful work and ?personal relationships. 

Here is the link to Prevention Magazine’s recent piece on Conflict Resolution. I was pleased to be able 

to contribute some of my ideas.

And by the way, if a discussion starts to get off track, another area of good teamwork is having the understanding you both agree that either party can suggest calling  a “time out.” Something like “I’d like to take a short walk to to collect my thoughts. I’ll be back in 20 minutes.” 

But be sure you are back when you promise. That’s respectful.

Even though you may know the other person well, sometimes we discover how folks can get pretty anxious while waiting when someone is late arriving. And it can feel like disrespect.

Would love to hear from you if you have some good teamwork tips or stories.

© Elayne Savage, PhD

Until next month,


Elayne Savage is the author of ground-breaking relationship books published in 9 languages.
Both books are now available on Kindle!



You can reprint any blog from 'Tips from The Queen of Rejection'® as long as you include an attribution and, whenever possible, a live link to my website. And I'd really appreciate if you'd notify me where and when the material will appear.

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Name: Dr. Elayne Savage
Title: The Queen of Rejection
Group: Relationship Coach, Professional Speaker, Practicing Psychotherapist, Author
Dateline: San Francisco Bay Area, CA United States
Cell Phone: 510-816-6230
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