Group Communication

Part 1

Video I: Group Communication Video Cases

The group comprised of three different professionals; a school nurse, a psychiatrist, and a social worker. This diversity in group makeup affected their opinion on resolving the issue. The treatment approach favored by the three professionals varied with a particular approach being seen as more important and useful by each respective professional.

The diversity of the group affected the group members’ communication style since they exhibited varying levels of assertiveness with the psychiatrist being the most assertive of the group. In this case, diversity was a hindrance to communication since group members were keen to defend their position.

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The psychiatrist supported medication while the social worker advocated for a more holistic approach. Evidently, the communication was not effective since each member was only interested in advancing their preferred approach without giving due consideration to the suggestions made by the others. Written communication method would have been more effective in this case.

This is because each member would have been forced to go through the ideas proposed by the other members to completion before reacting to him or her (Adair, 2009). Use of presentations would also have helped since each member would have been allocated time to give their opinions without interruption from other members.

Video 2: Planning a Playground

In the planning a playground video, verbal and nonverbal interactions occur among the members. The nonverbal cues were communicating a lack of conviction in some of the proposals being advanced by the members. However, the speaker did not respond to these nonverbal communications.

The verbal communications are very well put and all members were able to properly articulate their issues and offer solutions. The non-verbal communications also demonstrated attention to what was being said by the speaker. Constant nodding and eye contact facilitated the communication process among the members. Use of hand signals such as raising one’s hand when one had a point helped in the organization of the group.

Non-verbal communications were also used to show disagreement with what the speaker was saying. While this communication was not helpful, it was backed up by verbal communication which helped to achieve effective communication. Presentation aids would have helped to better quantify the issue being discussed and help the members to understand the rationale behind the proposals on the playground money made. Keeping of written records of the meeting would also have been helpful for future reference (Hargie, 2006).

Video 3: Virtual Miscommunication

Listening involves receiving the sound waves and understanding what is being communicated by the speaker. Good listening skills are necessary for effective communication to take place. It also prevents misunderstandings and frustrations when the speaker perceives that they are not being listened to.

Listening techniques were not properly utilized in the virtual miscommunication scenario. The listeners did not make use of any verbal affirmations to confirm that they were fully engaged with the communication process. In addition to this, the listeners were not paying proper attention to what the speaker was saying due to distractions.

Another poor listening habit demonstrated in this video was interrupting a speaker while he is making a point. Techniques which could have facilitated the group process include active listening which is characterized by giving verbal affirmations to demonstrate that you understand what is being said would have helped confirm that the listeners were attentive and encourage the speaker to move on.

The group members would also have made use of paraphrasing which involves repeating what the speaker has said in your own words (Cleary, 2004). Such a technique would ensure that there were no misunderstandings and in case they occurred, the speaker would have a chance to correct them.

Part 2

A. Individual Strengths and Problem-Solving Techniques Paper

Part 1: Individual Strengths and the Group Process

I was recently a part of a group whose task was to prepare for a wedding party for my friend. The group consisted of eight members including myself. The members of the group were of varying age groups, came from different backgrounds and possessed varying professional skills. Most of the group members did now know each other or have a relationship with each other outside of the group.

A strength that I brought to the group setting was my enthusiasm for the project. Because of this enthusiasm, I was committed to the group and attended all meetings without fail.

I also ensured that the group efficiency was increased by proposing that we appoint a chairperson and each member be given a role. I also took it upon myself to ensure that the group did not deviate into topics that were not relevant to the task at hand. I fostered effective communication among the members by making sure that the appropriate channels were used at all times.

Because of these, instances of miscommunication were not there and no the group productivity was increased. I also ensured that each task was delegated to the most skilled person in that area. This meant that the tasks at hand were effectively completed due to the skills of the person in charge.

There were some drawbacks which came about because of my strengths and skills. My insistence on sticking to the agenda had a negative impact on group cohesion.

As I have noted, the group members were not familiar with each other. When someone tried to hold general conversations that were aimed at building a relationship among the members, I focused the group back to the issue at hand. Huszczo (2004) asserts that a good relationship among group members yields good performance by the team. My focus on the agenda therefore prevented members from building a relationship that would have raised commitment to the group tasks and brought about great results.

My focus on the most skilled persons in the group also led to some members failing to participate in the group due to lack of confidence. Webne-Behrman (2008) observes that when this happens, the group suffers since it is denied a chance to benefit from the viewpoint of the members who refused to speak out.

One skill that I could work on in order to foster a more effective group environment is to involve all the members of the group. By making all members feel like important members of the team, the group will benefit from the insights of all the members. I can foster this skill by avoiding the temptation to focus only on the vocal members of the group and seeking ways to involve the members who appear to lack confidence.

The group process was also affected by the strengths and skills of other members. On a positive side, the commitment exuded by the members. This commitment led to a deep determination to accomplish the goals and objectives that the group had set out to achieve. On the negative side, some members dominated the meetings and ended up making their issues the center of the discussion. Dominance derails the group from dealing with all the issues that need to be addressed (Kolin, 2009).

Part 2: Problem Solving Techniques and Group Decision Making

Problem solving techniques Used

Problem solving is one of the key activities carried out of the group and this solutions sometimes aid in the decision making process. Having good problem solving skills is therefore imperative for the success of the group. There are a number of problem solving techniques that I frequently make use of. One technique that I make use of in problem solving is brainstorming in order to come up with a large number of ideas and then choose the best ones.

Adair (2010) asserts that brainstorming is a very effective technique since it frees the participant from functional fixedness and gives a chance for new ideas to emerge. I also make use of abstraction to solve problem. This technique involves solving the problem at an abstractly in order to see how the solution will turn out. After that, I then apply the tested solution to the real problem.

An advantage of abstraction is that it anticipates any adverse impacts of the solution proposed before they are implemented and changes can therefore be made. The last technique that I utilize is the trial and error means which involves applying each potential solution in sequence. This method is useful when a set of potential solutions have been decided but it is not yet clear which one works best.

My techniques influence group decisions in a number of profound ways. Through brainstorming, the group is able to encompass numerous solutions and the best one is chosen for the given occasion. Through brainstorming, the members of the group can be involved and this will lead to greater acceptability of the proposed solution.

Abstraction also helps the group to simulate the impacts of the solution and therefore avoid the solutions that might lead to greater problems. Trial and error is very useful when the group members are fighting over which is the right approach to the problem. Straus (2002) elaborates that it is more productive to select one solution and see if it works. If it does not work, then another solution can be tried out until the right one is reached.

There are other problem solving techniques that I could employ when making group decisions. I could also make of extensive research to solve problems. This method will look at similar problems and their solutions and then adapt this to the particular problem that our group is facing.

By doing this, we will be able to build on what is already known to work and therefore get the best outcomes. I could also make use of the divide and conquer technique which involves breaking down a large problem into small solvable parts. This technique will help in solving problems which seem too complex to deal with. Splitting the problems into manageable chunks will ensure that the group is not overwhelmed as we try to solve the problem.

Developing and improving my problem solving techniques will make me an even greater asset for my group. Straus (2002) stresses that problem solving skills can be learned through practice and exposure. I can increase my problem solving proficiency by reading case studies on problems and how to solve them.

By doing this, I will be exposed to new and effective manners of solving problems and learn from experts. I will also be able to use the case study findings in my own problems. Playing puzzles and other mentally challenging games will also increase my analytical skills and therefore make me more proficient and solving problems. Keeping an open mind and being willing to try out other problem solving techniques proposed by other people will also help me to develop and further improve my skills.

Part 3

1. Group Motivation Inventory Paper

Lessons learnt from the exercise

Completing the Group Motivation Inventory exercise made me learn a number of things about myself. To begin with, I learnt that while I work very hard in my group, this dedication is mostly driven by the effort shown by the other group members. I also discovered that I do not spend too much time on group projects and mostly do only what we had agreed on with the other members.

The exercise also revealed to me that I prefer working on my way since I would rather divide the tasks with the group members and then focus on my part individually. Even so, I observed that I appreciate the efforts made by other members of the group and easily commended them for their contributions to the group effort.

Another lesson I learnt was that I prefer to avoid contentions and seek to preserve a cordial mood in the group setting. I therefore avoid issues that might result in strive with other members of the group. I also learnt that I am greatly concerned about the perception that other people have about my contributions.

For example the appreciation I got from my group members inspired me to work even harder. It is likely that I would not have been as inspired had they not shown any appreciation for my efforts. Furthermore, I also noticed that I like taking initiative to ensure that the group objectives are met within the set deadlines.

How the Knowledge affects my interaction with groups

This knowledge affects the manner in which I interact in groups in significant ways. Groups are an invaluable tool for achieving significant results in many settings. The knowledge I gained made me realize that greater outcomes can be obtained from working together as a group.

This is because each member of the group brings with him/her skills and expertise that can contribute to the generation of great ideas (Brown, 2000). I also need to develop intrinsic motivation and avoid letting my desire to work for the group be determined by the efforts shown by other members.

The exercise also brought it to my attention that in many cases, I fall prey to groupthink and go along with the options forwarded by other members of the group even if I disagree. Groups achieve their purpose if they are able to come up with the best solution to handle a common problem.

Guffey, Rogin & Rhodes (2009) observe that groupthink damages the effectiveness of a group since it discourages open discussions and results in conformity which inhibits the best alternatives from being discovered and implemented. I will also be aware of any prejudice or bias I might have while interacting with group members. This awareness will keep me from derailing the communication process as a result of stereotypical views I might harbor (Greene & Burleson, 2003).

Different Approaches in Group Interaction

From the results of the exercise, significant weaknesses in my interaction in groups were highlighted. I therefore intend to act differently in some aspects. I will make use of good listening habits in order to facilitate communication efforts with others. Downs (2008) reveals that good listening skills can be acquired through lessons on effective listening.

I therefore intend to overcome any poor listening habits I might have through training. For example, by acquiring active listening, I will be able to become an effective listener and also gain greater insights into the points being made by the speaker (Gottlieb, 2003). I will also work on looking interested in what the speaker has to say and adopting the proper non-verbal cues. This will encourage the members of my group to communicate more extensively and the group will gain invaluable information from each speaker.

Actions to Increase my Motivation

To be more motivated in the group efforts, I will engage in research on the subject matter before each meeting. By doing this, I will always have something to contribute during each meeting and I will not get bored as the other members get into detailed discussions about the matter at hand.

I will make use of assertive communication to ensure that my opinions are heard by the members. Assertion will help me to maximize my satisfaction without violating the needs of the other group members and therefore promote positive interpersonal relationships in the group (Greene & Burleson, 2003). By doing this, I will have a greater sense of ownership in the direction that the group is taking.

This involvement will lead to greater motivation on my part. I will also set personal goals that I will seek to achieve for the group. Pynes (2008) asserts that the clear expectations which are characteristic of goal-setting theory result in high performance from individuals.

Personal Incentives

A number of personal incentives will help me to increase my commitment to the group. Having a sense of purpose will also serve as a great incentive in the group process. By having a clear objective and goal to achieve, I will be motivated to work hard in order to achieve the goals (Greene & Burleson, 2003).

My need to see any endeavor I take part in succeed will ensure that I have the proper motivation to work with the group. Greater participation in the group will invariably increase my influence in the group. The greater influence I will have on the decisions made by the group will also be a major incentive for me.

Incentivizing Group Members

The actions of each individual member will contribute positively or negatively to the success of the group. It is therefore important to foster a positive climate that encourages each member to make the necessary contribution to positively influence the outcomes of the group (Schneider, 2008).The motivations for group members’ may be deferent and this would call for different incentives to be employed.

Encouraging intrinsic motivation in the group members will be most beneficial. Sharbrough (2006) observes that internally motivated people yield the best results since they do not require any external factors such as promises of reward or threat of punishment to achieve the set goals.

To drive the members, I will promote a culture where achievement is recognized and applauded. Jakobson (2007) reveals that by using simple methods such as acknowledging great performance from an individual member of the team during meetings, the member will be motivated to perform even better in future.

Part 4: Presentation Aids

Presentation aids are tools that are used to enhance the group process by enhancing perception of the speaker and also helping the audience stay interested and remember what is being discussed. Computer generated slides such as Microsoft’s PowerPoint is the most favored presentation aids in group presentations. The speaker makes use of a computer program to create slides that may contain text, images, audio, and even video elements (Kolin, 2009).

In addition to this, the speaker may include notes to help him/her through the presentation. The slides are then presented through a projector to aid in the group presentation. Computer generated slides have a number of significant advantages. The end results look very professional, which increases the interest from the audience. It is also easy to make changes to the data and reproduce the slides if need be.

The speaker can also maintain eye contact with the group members even as he/she presents. However, this presentation aid also has some demerits the most significant of which is that it can be distracting if funny images or too much color is used. Too much information on the slide will also reduce the efficiency of the presentation aid. In most cases, the room has to be darkened for the slides to be visible. This might cause some group members to lose concentration in the presentation.

Another presentation aid used is handouts which are printed paper which contain the points that the speaker is making. The handouts are offered to the group members and the can therefore help the audience to follow along with what is being discussed. A notable advantage of handouts is that they are very simple to make and use. Since they only require printing, they are cheap to implement.

They also act as a lasting reference since members can go home with them (Schneider, 2008). The biggest disadvantage with handouts is that the audience may fail to concentrate on the speaker as they read ahead. These tools will therefore fail to enhance presentation by pulling attention away from the speaker. When the group is relatively large, handouts may be expensive since each member needs to have their own copy.

Another presentation aid used in group presentations is the flip chart. This tool makes use of blank sheets of paper mounted on a board (Cleary, 2004). The speaker composes the desired visual aid by using markers or any other graphic material on the paper. The most obvious advantage of the flip chart is that it is inexpensive and very easy to use as no special skills are required of the presenter.

The aid is also easily portable to any location where the meeting is taking place. The speaker can add material to the charts in real time which makes it very good for interacting with the audience. There are some disadvantages associated with flip charts. To begin with, it is only useful for a small audience due to visibility. If the speaker uses illegible handwriting, the tool will not assist in the presentation efforts.

Overhead Projectors are also popular presentation aids especially when a large group is being addressed. The overhead transparency projector machine is the only piece of equipment needed to utilize this aids (Guffey et al., 2009). The presenter can then project works, images, and illustrations to a screen.

A significant advantage of overhead projectors is that they can be used in large auditorium without visibility being deteriorated. They are also easy to use and do not require a lot of technical knowhow. On the downside, they are big and bulky and therefore not easy to transport. The presentations are also not very professional and may therefore not get the attention of the audience.

References

Adair, J. (2009). Effective Communication: The Most Important Management Skill of All. New York: Pan Macmillan.

Adair, J. (2010). Decision Making and Problem Solving Strategies. NY: Kogan Page Publishers.

Brown, R. (2000). Group processes: dynamics within and between groups. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.

Cleary, S. (2004). The Communication Handbook: A Student Guide to Effective Communication. New Delhi: Juta and Company Ltd.

Downs, L. J. (2008). Listening Skills Training. NJ: American Society for Training and Development.

Gottlieb, M. (2003). Managing group process. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Greene, J. & Burleson, B. (2003). Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills. New York: Routledge.

Guffey, E., Rogin, P. & Rhodes, K. (2009). Business Communication: Process and Product. NJ: Cengage Learning.

Hargie, O. (2006). The Handbook of Communication Skills. NJ: Taylor & Francis.

Huszczo, G. (2004). Tools for Team Leadership: Delivering the X-factor in Team Excellence. Texas: Davies-Black Publishing.

Jakobson, L. (2007) Harrah’s Teams Up. Incentive 181(2), 10-20.

Kolin, P. (2009). Successful Writing at Work. NY: Cengage Learning.

Pynes, J. (2008). Human Resources Management for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Strategic Approach. NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Schneider, M. (2008). Groups: process and practice. NY: Cengage Learning

Sharbrough, W. (2006). Motivating Language in Industry. Journal of Business Communication, 43(4), 322-343.

Straus, D. (2002). How to Make Collaboration Work: Powerful Ways to Build Consensus, Solve Problems, and Make Decisions. Detroit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Webne-Behrman, H. (2008).The Practice of Facilitation: Managing Group Process and Solving Problems. Boston: IAP.

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