Every Man is a part of some Social Group
Man is a social animal and he cannot survive in isolation. He is born as a part of a primary group which is his family and in most aspects of his life he operates as a part of a group. Being a part of a group gives him security, protection and often an identity but he also has some duties and responsibilities as a part of this group.
What is a Group?
A group is a small number of people with talents committed to a common purpose, a similar working approach. A group is two or more individuals who are connected to each other by social relationships.
What is Group Behaviour?
Group behaviour refers to a situation where people interact with each other as part of a small or large group - how they react to discussions, arguments that take place in a group of which they are members.
Dynamics of Group Behaviour
Dynamics of Group Behaviour refers to study of the behaviour of people as a part of a group. People gather in groups for various reasons and as a group process develops - the group goes through several stages.
Kurt Lewin is identified as the founder of the movement to study scientifically the way individuals and groups act and react to each other and to changing circumstances as the group process develops and goes through several stages.
Lewin coined the term 'Group Dynamics' and includes three aspects of this process
- Inclusion : pretending to get on or along with each other as members of the same group.
- Control : getting used to each other, developing trust and productivity. Working in a group to achieve a common goal on a highly efficient and cooperative basis.
- Affection : mourning the adjournment of the group.
Each member of the group must adopt and accept that each individual in the group is different and that individuals within a group work in different ways.
If distrust prevails, a group can never be productive.
Common barriers to successful group working are expectations from other members, preconceived ideas and prejudices and then there is a need to counsel, and control the members.
Groups go through several stages before useful work can be done. These stages include :-
- Self identification of the role each member will play as a part of the group.
- The emergence of a natural leader, who will serve as a source of information.
Cog's Ladder of Group Development
This is based on the work 'Cog's Ladder - A Model of Group Growth' by George O Charrier, an employee of Procter and Gamble (published in a company newsletter in 1972).
Some of the basic stages necessary for a group to work together efficiently are :-
- Polite stage : An introductory stage where the members of a group are introduced and get acquainted with one another. During this phase the basis of group structure is established and there is social interaction. However, it is here that judgement of other members is formed and sets the tone for the rest of the group's time.
- Why are we here? stage : Group members should be told why they have been called together. Here a member becomes the moderator, and later may emerge/become the leader. Members begin to explore their group's purpose and begin to accept and set individual goals. Members begin to get the desire 'to fit in' the group.
- Power stage : Bid for power between group members in an effort to convince each other that their position on an issue is correct. Some members co-operate and express their views freely while others remain silent. There is a great need for patience at this stage.
- Co-operation stage : Members realise that others too have an opinion worth expressing and each one has to work with each other, so team spirit should replace vested interest only then new levels of creativity are achieved and the group becomes productive.
A team spirit replaces vested interests.
Group conflict is where behaviour of individuals that form a group causes conflict, argument, anger, distrust within a group. This conflict is due to variance of opinion over the issues in the group-caused due to differences in social norms, education, values, culture and religion.
Misunderstandings in a group are common because of the ways many people use language - use of jargon, by-passing people and their ideas, use of offensive words or using words to conceal the truth.
Both constructive and destructive conflicts occur in a group. Constructive conflicts can lead to new solution and creative ideas and destructive conflicts must be dealt with immediately as they create hostility between the members and can even break a group. Discussions, counselling can be used to find alternative solutions so that the group moves forward. However, individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking should not be lost in the pursuit of group unity.
Size of the Group
Size of the group plays as important role. A group should not be so large that individuality gets lost and not so small that the group lacks diversity. It is practical to consider an optimal range of 5 to 11 members in a group. However, dynamics of a group take place regardless the size.
Techniques for Effective Participation In Group
A discussion is a process of integrating ideas in order to construct a solution to a problem. It is an informal exchange of ideas among members of a group. For any discussion to be fruitful and constructive, participation of each member of the group is essential. The criteria for effective participation springs directly from the purpose of group discussion. Since the group has assembled for a special purpose, the potential of this group can be achieved only if all members work together. and perform certain duties.
Attitude plays an important part in effective participation and certain attitudes are necessary for success :-
- Respect for each individual : The basic democratic attitude is to make discussion free and democratic for everyone in the group. Each member must get a chance to express his ideas. This, of course, does not mean that you accept or approve all the acts or ideas of others.
- Open-mindedness towards ideas : Do not ignore contrary evidence produced by other members. Old ideas can be modified and improved. Do not be too critical.
- Contribute : A member's first duty is to contribute as much and as often as can to the progress of the discussion. Sitting quietly because other people talk too much or try to dominate or because you are shy and not sure of yourself cannot be justified. A person cannot contribute by complete silence. Always come prepared for the discussion. Participants often hesitate to take initiative and start the topic - 'Can we come to the topic of business?' a simple question like this can create the lead for discussion.
- Listen to the remarks of others : Fruitful discussion and integration can take place only if group members pay attention to the contribution of others and make sure they understand what is being said. There is no rigid order in which a participant gets his turn - each member must join in without disrupting the speaker's flow of thought. However, if a member deviates too much from the topic, he can be reminded of the time or the topic.
- Oral Communication : Skills of oral communication are an important part of effective participation. These skills include :-
- The use of voice and articulation : Make yourself understood. Discuss in a warm friendly manner, be informal but not personal, and use enough force to carry the ideas to all members of the group but do not be bombastic.
- Language should flow well enough to carry the listener along. Fluency in the use of language can be achieved if one is well prepared and clear about the ideas he is expressing. Learn how to use language. Language should be grammatically correct, use natural and simple words, avoid difficult complicated and ambiguous words, long phrases. Words used should indicate the exact meaning.
- It is important to understand the make up of group before you decide what you say — does the group consist of seniors, peers or subordinates. This will help a member not only to decide what to say but also how to say it.
- Members can and should bring to the discussion any material that will assist the discussion including books, charts, films or use modern technical aids like a projector or power point presentation.
- 'Ideas won't keep, something must be done about them' — Alfred N. Whitehead.
During discussion, one member must note down the key points and a plan of action of 'What do we do next?' must be detailed. There must be a clear 'To Do' list of what, to do and when.
- What has to be done first, second and third? Procedure and Priority of work flow.
- Who is responsible for what? Allocation of jobs.
- How will you know your job is complete? The criterion of success.
Thorough preparation precedes good participation in a group. Each member must think through the problem, attempt to outline the pattern of thinking through research, study and bring well thought out ideas to the discussion.
Each member of the group has three important duties;
- to contribute his ideas,
- to listen to the contribution of others and
- to become a part of the group by accepting his responsibility and respect the leadership.
An effective participant shows respect for all individuals in a group, he is open minded not always critical and contrary to ideas of others.
Effective participation is in the form of good conversation. Each member should speak clearly and use polite language that is informal but grammatically correct and accurate. Clarity, accuracy and sincerity are keynotes of effective use of language in discussion.