Don’t Feel Guilty for Not Being a “Team Player”

James Walpole/ April 15, 2020

“You aren’t being a team player.” “You always think you’re right.” “You are so stubborn.”

The irony is that these criticisms only sting if you’re a pro-social, agreeable person – they wouldn’t work on sociopaths or narcissists. So take them with a grain of salt.

It helps to know that the people who make these complaints often are tipping their own hands: do they raise the criticism only when you aren’t following their agenda? If they are peeved at your independence because it thwarts their desire for control of your energy, time, and commitment, then it’s hard to see that the moral burden rests on you.

Any person who asks you for your time, energy, or commitment bears the responsibility of persuading and earning the deal. Trying to convince you to submit to their direction by impugning your character for not submitting is a cheap trick. The value of being a team player depends entirely on the worthiness of the team’s goal, and (to a lesser degree) the worthiness of the leader and other people on the team.

If a goal is good and a team is good, being a team player is a very good thing. You would do well to step up to support the team without even being asked. But it’s not an inherent character flaw if you aren’t disposed to go along with what other people want. And it’s not an inherent sign of virtue if you cooperate as a matter of course.

Photo by Hannah Reding on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

1 Comment

  1. Hmmm

    A more appropriate title which reflects your underlying theme: Resistance is Futile..

    If I don’t care about being labeled “not a team player” and/or “stubborn” I am in fact either a “sociopath” or a “narcissist” because “Pro-social” and “agreeable” people always do…Who would have guessed.

    “If the goal is good and the team is good, being a team player is a very good thing” Since when?

    “You would do well to step up and support the team without even being asked” Really?

    It is early and I am still on my first cup of coffee. But, did I just wake up in 2021 to find Bernie Sanders and the Socialist Party of America in charge? The Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves….

    The last time I looked I live in a country which was founded upon and its greatness is still defined by the freedoms and liberties of the individual not the collective.

    The context of the times not withstanding, you have, perhaps inadvertently, gone completely off the rails here James. IMHO of course

    Have a great day.

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