5 lessons in teamwork learned from playing bridge

Other than first-person shooter deathmatches or capturing of flags, bridge was the first team or partnership game I really started playing.

A much (and much) later time into being a bridge player, and I realize that I’ve learned a lot about partnerships and teamwork through cards.

Any business, bridge game, band or collective brainstorming venture relies on the symbiotic relationship created by several people working to the same goal – even if their way of being part of the team is an individual one.

Here are 5 lessons in teamwork learned from playing bridge.

#1: Communicate, for the love of bridge!

It turns out that the number one reason for failing bridge partnerships is probably the number one reason for failing businesses and marriages, too: they don’t communicate, and certainly not as well as they used to.

Great bridge teams talk. They talk about their plays, they talk about the game, they talk about the flower arrangements around the table. The point is, they talk.

Communicate when there are issues, and communicate about games you’re about to play or have just played.

Communication is an important connecting element in any team or partnership. Without it, you’ll lose sight of what the heck you’re doing.

#2: One bad tree (screws over the entire orchard)

Every chain is only as strong as its weakest link; the same is true for every rubber band. Apply pressure to either, and see where the object in question snaps first.

The same adage can be applied to bridge partnerships and teams.

A dishonest, cheating or rude team member can be a liability to the entire group.

After a few cautions on their behavior, it’s best for these members to be on their way out should you realize that any are on your team.

#3: A good team is the best and worst of everyone

Successful teams in business and bridge function symbiotically (and never parasitically).

A great team is a combination of the best (and worst) assets of each team member.

Where one person lacks in one quality, another fills the gap – and that’s how you get a team where everyone knows exactly what they’re doing at all times.

As a team, use your strengths and admit your weaknesses.

#4: Hear out repeated complaints

As a consumer rights journalist, I’ve learned a lot about complaints and how to handle them.

All complaints, even ones that don’t seem valid, should be heard out – and then assessed from there. When there are more complaints about the same member or issue, it’s time to take a more serious approach.

Repeated complaints against the same team member for the same type of offense means there’s smoke. Where there’s smoke, there might be something to look at.

#5: Find the team rhythm

Teams of any type become more successful when they’ve learned to coordinate their actions.

Whether we’re talking about staff in a heated, busy kitchen or band members in a heated, busy bar, you’ll notice how they have a rhythm that allows them to do their thing without running into one another and knocking about.