Does NOT Play Well With Others!

Posted on September 23, 2010


I have been told that I do not play well with others. I like to believe that it’s the other way around, others do not play well with me. Let me tell you a story before I get to the meat and potatoes of this evenings blog. Yes, I know that once again I find myself breaking one of my rules and your going to hear a military story but it fits the situation and hopefully helps prove my point.

In 1996 or 97 I had the good fortune to attend ILRRP Sharpshooters course ,basically an international version of our sniper school, less the ballistics memorization and m24. It included more recce exercises (it is ILRRP after all) and the not so popular SA-80 weapon system, and two others rifles that I have long since forgotten. Upon arriving at the course I discovered that although I had been paired with a buddy from our unit to attend the course with, he would not be my partner throughout the entirety of the school. I was instead paired with an Italian lieutenant whom while we spent the first week of the course preparing An SA-80 (LA85A1) rifle stripped in 1996.our ghilly suits and practicing stalking and recce exercises, did not speak a single word of English to me. We instead communicated through my broken and very weak grasp of Italian, his copious use of aggressive head nodding “yes” and hand and arm signals. It wasn’t until the second week and our first trip out to the range that I learned the single English phrase that my partner knew. After firing a group of shots to zero my rifle I turned to him hoping to get at least a hand signal as to the location of my grouping, I had provided him a pad of paper with the target sketched on it so that he could show me where my rounds were hitting I handed him a pencil and said “Dove l’ho colpito?” (A phrase taught to me by an instructor who laughed and laughed when I explained quite calmly to him that I was under the impression that one of the requirements for the course was that you had to speak English.) My Italian Officer partner turned from the spotting scope and offered me a huge grin, a thumbs up and the words “Looney, you killer!”. That’s great, I could hear the snickers from the instructors behind me and from the British team to my left and the German and American team to my right. Eventually through bribes and coercion I convinced the two teams that always flanked my partner and I that it would be in their best interest to stop cracking jokes and at least help with shoot week by calling out my shots for me, (in English). The rest of the week went smoothly, of course every time I turned around guys were giving me a scopethumbs-up and stating in their best Italian accent “Looney, you killer!”  By the end of the course I had resolved that I would simply try to get through the course as best as possible and try to at least attempt to communicate with my teammate. Until the very last stalking exercise I really didn’t understand to what extent my partner had no idea what this course was about. After crawling on my belly for 4 hours, establishing what I thought was an outstanding hide site and spending another hour or more sketching and labeling the mock enemy camp we were supposed to recce, I heard what sounded like a teapot start whistling directly to my rear. I turned around to find my teammate had decided that this was the most opportune time to sit up in our hide site and brew himself a pot of tea. When I gave him the gesture, begging “why?” he wrapped his arms around himself and said “freddo” and shivered. I “accidently” kicked his pot over and got ready to take my first shot of the day. As I zeroed in on my target I turned to my teammate to make sure he was setting the spotting scope up and to my surprise he stood up and started doing jumping jacks, in our hide site!!! I heard a howl of laughter from a team to my left and someone say “is he trying to flag the enemy down before you shoot them?”. I pleaded with him to please get down and tried to explain that he only needed to stay still for a few more minutes. He simply said “freddo” gathered his belongings, walked out of the rear of our hide and I don’t believe I ever saw him again. I passed that course but did have to attend a meeting with my commander and 1st Sgt . to explain why my course critique from the instructors had “Specialist Looney is an outstanding shot but needs training in dealing with different nationalities and cooperating with foreign military counterparts.” or something close to that affect.4810_221986690396_834045396_7411903_6219055_n

I told that story so that I could say this, organizations, clubs or groups need to have standards. There has to be a set of by-laws, rules, or strict guidelines that you can fall back on if your plagued with “drama”. I’ve been a member of several clubs and organizations and find that when you try to get something started, if you lack the correct structure on how to run that organization it turns into a “fan club”. By that I mean, one of two things happen. The person in charge essentially becomes a dictator and does nothing to promote a cohesive group or organization, members become frustrated at the lack of planning or feeling like they do not contribute to the over all goals of the organization. It’s become a fan club of the person in charge, members stay because they want to achieve a goal but can’t find another organization that meets their needs or they simply resolve to feel like just being there helps and the guy in charge seems to know what he’s doing or like me they simply cut their ties and move on. The other thing that happens is that the leadership falls apart due to trying to accommodate and “make nice” with their members in order to avoid conflict or the need to follow strict by-laws or rules. The group meets but never really gets anything accomplished, it’s more like a fan club get together where we meet and talk about what we like.

How does this tie into my story? Like this, I cannot stand by and/or be a member of a group that has little or no leadership or leadership structure. I offer to help maybe even write some bylaws for the group at least point them in the right direction to help “organize” the group. Knowing we all want to achieve the same objectives this should not be an issue. What happens when you do that? Well, people in the leadership positions get butt-hurt and feel like your trying to tell them that they don’t know what they are doing. That actually might be true, but that’s not how it was stated, I always offer help, I never say hey you’re an idiot move over and let me take charge and we’ll get this thing done. You have to understand that people need to feel like they contribute and when they do, they need to feel appreciated for it.

If you think I’m being vague, you bet I am. I may not play well with others, or it may be that I just can’t suffer fools.

Here’s some advice, if your in a leadership position, maybe you sit on a board of some club, organization or group. Take some notes on what issues are discussed among the leadership for a week, all discussions not just the formal ones. If you spend more time talking about how your members or other leaders are interacting with each other than you do organizing and planning events or ways to achieve what ever your collective goal is, then you need to revisit your bylaws or get some. Get past the drama and run your group if it’s growing large enough that your unable to adapt, take advise and let more experienced leadership show you how to accomplish the goals you set for the group.

Posted in: Personal