Do you have any trigger words? Most people do.

These are words or phrases that provoke emotional reactions. Trigger words can inspire, but they can also inflame. They can be used to motivate, but they can also be used to manipulate.

Effective communication between teammates is about what not to say as much as it is about what to say. Using certain words that you know will attack your teammates’ dignity, elicit frustrations, or put them on the defensive leads to avoidable drama.

Hence, a big part of being a good teammate is being aware of your teammates’ trigger words—and choosing not to use them.

It takes little effort to substitute a more appeasing synonym or alter your phrasing to convey the same message without triggering a teammate’s adverse response.

In working with teams and studying the art of being a good teammate, I have become aware that good teammates are not immune from being provoked by trigger words. In fact, sometimes they are triggered by seemingly unsuspecting words, like fine and sure.

Do want to wear the white one? That’s fine. Do you want other people to come along? That’s fine.

Do you want to go for pizza? Sure. Do you want to meet at 6 o’clock? Sure.

In most situations, fine and sure are benign, completely acceptable, emotionally void responses. They’re words of appeasement, tantamount to saying “yes.” As responses, they don’t bother most people. So why are they so triggering for some good teammates?

Because they don’t exactly mean “yes.”

At their core, good teammates are over-pleasers. They’re deeply caring individuals who value social connections and enjoy making others happy. Service—a synonym for pleasing—tends to be their love language.

Responses like fine and sure frustrate good teammates because they come across as concessions. It’s unclear whether these responses indicate the respondent is pleased or merely accepting the lack of alternative options. Fine and sure could mean OK, alright, satisfactory, or meh.

Good teammates want to please others. They don’t want others to accept anything less than precisely what’s desired. Responding with fine or sure makes ascertaining that distinction frustratedly more difficult.

Words carry consequences, especially trigger words. On healthy, successful teams, relationships are based on trust. Teammates need to know they can trust each other to not use words that unnecessarily provoke adverse emotional reactions.

Being invested in your teammates necessitates you making an effort to discover your teammates’ trigger words.

The next time a good teammate asks you a question, consider holstering the trigger words fine and sure. Offer a more affirmative response instead. Doing so will be a good teammate move on your part.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory and the creator National Be a Good Teammate Day. He is a former sports coach turned bestselling author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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