It happens to everyone at some point in their lives — you get stuck on a team with someone who you seem to get along with fine with, but working together is just a pain. Dealing with situations like this is an important skill to have both during a team competition and in the real world. There are several strategies that you can employ to make dealing with difficult teammates a piece of cake! (Cake may or may not be one of them.)
Before I start, I am in no way whatsoever advocating for you to be mean to your teammate. I am actually doing quite the opposite. Just because you are getting annoyed with someone does not mean you are allowed to be hateful to them. Please keep this in mind as you read this post. (And as a general life rule. I mean, come on y’all.)
Take A Minute To Work Alone
If you are being annoyed by a teammate, just try walking away before things get out of hand. If you are communicating using an online platform, turn off the notifications and work by yourself for awhile. (If your team is flag hoarding until the end of the game, don’t submit flags while working on your own). Once you have regained your composure, go ahead and hop back on whatever form of digital communication you were using. In person, this can be more difficult because you can’t switch yourself to “User is Offline” in real life. During an in person meetup, you can always take a snack break, spend some time working in another room, or even better yet — go get the team everyone’s favorite beverage. (Probably earning you brownie points.)
Talk about the issue at hand
The best thing you can do when you have an issue with a teammate is to reach out to them and discuss it in a respectful manner. The issue that often occurs is people forget how to calmly handle confrontation. I could go into detail about how to make sure you conduct the discussion respectfully, but it all boils down to a very simple rule:
Don’t Be a Jerk.
If you want to ensure that things are done in a respectful manner, consider holding the discussion either with your coach in a face to face or in a voice chat with the coach present. That way your coach can act as a moderator and ensure that no boundaries are crossed.
If you’re having a personal issues with a teammate, try using “I feel” statements to explain the problem to them instead of phrasing your concerns as accusatory. (ie. “You never listen to me!” vs “I don’t feel like I’m being listened to in our conversations.”) This works in regular life stuff too! Learning how to properly handle confrontation in a healthy and productive way is one of the best life skills you can learn.
Consider your response
For example, say your teammate asks you a question that is poorly worded and doesn’t convey their idea quite right. Instead of just ignoring it, consider asking follow up questions. Here is an example of a good way of asking for more information on a poorly asked question.
Teammate -> Why won’t nmap work ?
Can you please include the command you are using? <- You
Hopefully your teammate will respond with the exact command they are using so you can then help them figure out how to make it work. Quick side note: you shouldn’t necessarily just send them back a working command. Instead, lead them to resources so they figure out what they need to change. They should learn from the experience! If you can, link to an article explaining a concept or documentation of a tool. This way your teammate also learns how to read technical documentation and where to look for research.
When dealing with difficult teammates, it is also good to teach them how to ask good questions. Make it so that an internal routine gets executed inside their mind each time they go to ask a question. Teach them to include the some of the following things when they ask a question.
- Error codes, if any
- The exact command they are running
- Any scripts
- A brief description of what they are trying to accomplish
In my experience, poorly worded questions have been a large instigator of my difficulties with teammates. If you can coach teammates to ask you clearer questions, chances are you will see a decrease in overall difficulty.
What if my teammate is cheating?
In the event that you discover that your teammate is cheating, you should reach out to one of the Player Ambassadors on the Cyber Skyline Slack channel or reach out to Cyber Skyline directly. Evidence from their actions will be collected and only the teammate/teammates that cheated will be in trouble — the rest of your team will be fine.
To Wrap up
If I could some up what the whole point of this blog was trying to get at, I would do it in a single GIF:
Just because you and your teammate are not getting along doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excellent to one another and make sure to
party on hack all the things to get the points.
With love and root shells,