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Ways to Participate in a Group

Different ways to participate in a task-oriented groups.

Robyn Madson

on 21 March 2014

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Transcript of Ways to Participate in a Group

Finally Keep a problem focus: Even if you are working with people you don't know or don't like, if you stay focused on the problem, you can achieve your task successfully.

If you are not sure what's going on, ASK. You are all important members of the group and you bring important ideas. Be confident - everyone gets lost in conversation at times. Ask Questions Ways to Participate
in a Task Group This is possibly the easiest way to participate in a group setting because it shows people you are listening, engaged in the process, and care.

Tip: Ask explanatory questions, not evaluative questions.
Example: "How does this idea work with Ann's idea?
NOT: "Isn't that idea contradicting Ann's? Supporting Statements Offering support to other speakers bolsters their confidence and shows the group where you stand on an idea.

Tip: Don't just say "I agree with Joe." Explain your agreement:
"I agree with Joe because we have to consider how this action would affect the work team." Evaluating Statements During the discussion, you will have to make some judgements about ideas and information. These evaluation statements should focus on the ideas in the discussion rather than the people. You could comment on the usefulness, appropriateness, quality, and/or validity of the ideas in the discussion.

Tip: Make sure you are aware of where the group is in the discussion; for example, during brainstorming, it may not be appropriate to be evaluating ideas. If you are nervous about judging ideas, you might phrase it as a question or begin with a phrase like "I wonder if..." to soften the evaluation. Contradicting Statements Groups that are in agreement all the time tend to miss or avoid other points of view. That makes the role of a devil's advocate or contradictory opinion especially important in a task-oriented group because it hinders "group think."

Tip: Make sure you fully explain your disagreement and give examples of your point of view. Try to have some give in your statement, such as: "I understand what you mean - people often ... - but I'm not sure people should..." Take care to make your statements about the ideas, not other people in the group. Procedural Statements Task-oriented discussions have two levels of communication: there is the information and decision making level, but there is also the procedural level. This includes making agendas, ensuring everyone is on task and in the same place in the discussion, making sure everyone's voice is heard, and moving the discussion forward. These statements keep everyone in the same place in the discussion and keep people from being confused.

Tip: These can be phrased as questions as well, such as "Well, are we ready to move onto evaluating the possible solutions?" "Andrea, do you have any further ideas for...?" Summaries This is a type of procedural statement that recaps the discussion so far in order to make sure everyone is on the same page in the discussion. It may happen at different points in the discussion, for example, before moving on to another phase of problem solving.

Tip: Summaries should DESCRIBE, not evaluate the discussion. Represent the whole group and note the major points when summarizing. A summary does not need to be long. For example: "Ok, it seems we've narrowed the field to two candidates. Shall we talk about Al first?"
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