Team Working Skills | Communicating Effectively in Groups

Team Working Skills
The theories of communication are an important part of life i.e: Social Construction and Transmission.The hidden forces of group communication are how context influences the situations and ideas in the group.

The types of groups such as Professional and Civic group(groups containing community
involvement).A person should ask from himself while being a part of the group.The questions are:

  • 1. What kind of group it is?
  • 2. Why group has been convened? Are we meeting out of necessity or opportunity?
  • 3. What is our end goal?
  • 4. How and why people are involved in our group? Are they voluntarily present or they
  • are required to be here? How can their involvement be sustained or lost?
  • 5. Who is in-charge of the group? Where does the authority come from?
  • 6. Who does the group answer to? Whom are they accountable to?
  • There is the logic behind the interaction and why people communicate with each other

Conflict in the Groups often arises  and how to address these conflict and issues. Below are
the few points:

  •  What is the nature of communication?
  •  What is the preferred mode of talk?
  •  How should the problem be addressed?
  •  What is the preferred outcome of interaction?
  •  What constitutes a decision?
  • Furthermore, there are two factors as below in group communication
    •  Group Development
    •  Decision Making

Group Development:

The group’s basic definition is “collective sense of Identity that transcends the individual Members
The most important point here is socializing. How socializing impacts the productivity of the
groups. Many of the groups are just formed due to the assignments. By socializing the Interaction is increased the output is increased.Without socializing and interacting

● People won’t trust
● People won’t be engaging in constructive conflict
● People won’t be accountable to the rest of the     groups.
● People won’t care about the outcomes of the group.

The quality of the whole work depends on the character and identity of the group.Socializing isn’t just a one-time thing, Groups usually have a history.

Norms and Roles of the groups are an important aspect of group communication.Norms are informal, generally understood by the people,Whereas Roles have various positions in a group.Roles are developed via interaction in the group and are an important part of group character and Identity.This defines who is responsible for what.Further, there are different models of group development.

For example, THE PHASE MODEL. It was introduced by Bruce Tuchman’s in the 1960s.
This model consists of 4 steps.

1. Forming
2. Storming
3. Norming
4. Performing

This model is applicable to most of the groups we often form today.Another model which is called the Multiple sequence Model of Group Development which includes:

1. Task-Process
2. Relational
3. Topic Focus

The key Aspect is Decision Making:

Bad decisions, good decisions and Decision-Making
Traps.The 6 traps are as follows:

1. The anchoring Trap:
○ In this trap, the first idea that is presented to the group has more weightage and unintentionally people select that idea.

2. Status Quo Trap:
○ In this trap, the things and process that is already being followed are followed,
there is nothing new done. New problems have new solutions, but this isn’t followed.

3. The Sunk-Cost Trap:
○ In this trap, a bad idea is still pursued due to investment in it. Just because
heavy capital is invested, it should be done that way.

4. Confirming Evidence Trap:
○ In this trap, a person only tries to find out the information and searches only
that information which he wanted to know. Only seeks information which he

5. The Framing Trap:
○ In this trap, the decision is made on the basis of the language and context
that is used to explain a situation.

6. Estimating/Forecasting Trap:
○ In this trap, persons and organizations get too locked into the initial estimation
that change is resisted

Decision-making affects the quality of the information that is conveyed in groups and each trap is related to other traps. In short, we are always susceptible to traps and communication is the way to keep on getting new ideas and innovate and reduce gaps among the community.

The best practices for decision making are:

1. Multiple alternatives
○ Think about multiple solutions that are available for this solution.

2. Assumption Testing:
○ Stop and revisiting the assumptions

3. Well Defined Criteria
4. Dissent and Debate
5. Perception of Fairness

Creativity and Innovation:

Creativity is something that can be practised and improved upon:

1. Connectivity:
○ The connectivity is the main key for creativity in the groups. When
people meet outside of the office time. This increase interaction.

2. Constrains:
○ Sometimes, structures enable creativity. A person needed the right
box in which to structure your decisions

3. How and when not to communicate:
○ Brainstorming on the ideas is not that much efficient way.

Books that are suggested are “Where Good Ideas Come From” by Steven Johnson and the
second one is “Get Back in box” by chip & Dan Health.Now, Let’s Discuss regarding the conflicts.

Conflicts in the Groups:

Lack of conflict in groups is not harmony, its apathy.
Conflicts are good for groups

● Conflicts surfaces differences
● Conflicts Challenge the decisions
● It exposes harmful patterns
● it refines ideas.

Conflicts help groups refine ideas and challenge decisions.The way that it should be held is to respond to the conflict and manage it, not eliminate the
conflict.Now, I would like to share the tactics of teams to resolve the conflict

1. Teams debate on the basis of Facts and more information.
2. They think for multiple alternatives how a specific project can be achieved from
multiple ways
3. Instead of convincing on new ideas, they focus on the already commonly agreed
4. Inject humour into their deliberation
5. They maintain a balanced power structure.
6. Without forcing consensus. It’s okay to not to completely agree with groups.

In short the Tactics and Strategy, that should be adopted are

Decisions should be based on current, Factual information. Develop Multiple Alternatives to enrich the debate. The focus should be on the issues not personalities.Inject humour in decision-Making Goals. The best possible solution for the company is to achieving the Frame decisions as collaborations aimed.

Maintaining a balanced power structure. Resolving issues without forcing consensus. Establish a sense of fairness and equity in the process.A few more things to keep in mind while having a conflict.

Choosing the right words:

Selection of right words is essential. For example,  it shouldn’t be “What do I want to say” Rather than it should be “What do I want to accomplish”. Keeping in mind what to say to accomplish the task is the most appropriate in decision making.

The second question that needs to be addressed is what are we making together, and how could I frame things differently?Does this need to be sent by me right now?What is the conflict really about?
What questions can I ask instead of what statements can I make?

Like clarifying more.How we should move forward
How can I be reflexive in this conversation?Ask better questions.

Conflict and Negotiation: Basis of effective negotiation should create value for all the individuals involved in the decisions.
A recommended book here is ”Getting to YES” By Roger Fisher

The Four Key Concepts while Conflict Management are

  • Problems
  • Interests
  • Options
  • Standards

Problems:Don’t take it personally.
Interests:The focus should be on Interests not positions.
Options:There are always multiple options for mutual gains.
Standards:Negotiation should be based on objective standards that everyone feels that he went with a fair deal.

Another technique a person can do in conflict is BATNA. According to Wikipedia,
“BATNA mentioned to the most advantageous substitute course of action a party can take if intercession fail and an agreement cannot be reached.”

Diversity Matters:

Many group conflicts are rooted in our differences. So, it can be tempting to focus on mining these differences.An excellent book on this regard is “Difference Matters” by Brenda J. Allen.

Another important point is understanding identity. Who are you? And who are the other peoples in the group? Communication, gender and Linguistic style also play an important role in group decisions and conflict management.The week 4 part of this article describes the Technological aspect that we can use to increase interaction among the people.

  • Virtual Locations
  • Using Technology
  • Theoretical Modules
  • Practical Considerations

The world has gone virtual, most of the things we do and collaborate are online. There have been 3 waves for freelancers. Wave 1 was of virtual freelancers, the second wave was of virtual corporate colleagues in which there is no face to face interaction and the third wave is of virtual co-workers.

Another important question raises here is how groups are using technology?

  • For Conference Calls
  • For Decision Making
  • Telepresence Robots
  • Collaboration Technologies
  • A few of the technologies are Trello, Jira etc.

In Summary, Group communication is an important part of human life and these skills must be adopted to be an effective team player.

Sumama Zaeem
Rotaract Club of Lahore
RID # 3272

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