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Tips for Working in Groups

Working together in a group can be a great experience or a terrible one. Which way it goes depends, to a large extent, on the quality of the communication among group members and the respect they show for each other. Here are a few guidelines for making your group work successful:

  • Work hard. For all activities, do your share and a little bit more. Be responsible, and then add a little extra to bring the standards of the group up and make its success more likely.
  • Be inclusive. Bring every member of the group in on discussions, decision making, and activities. Give everyone a chance to speak, listen to them, and give serious consideration to what they are saying. Cooperate.
  • Take turns. Don’t be the leader all the time. Don’t be a follower all the time. Don’t talk too much--listen to others. Don’t just listen to others—share your opinions too.
  • Be nice. Avoid personal criticism. Make sure you understand what someone is saying before you weigh in with your opinion about it. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Be timely. Show up promptly for meetings. Meet all deadlines. When you’re late, you waste people’s time and make them mad. People depend on you. Get it done on time.
  • Don’t be an enabler. If you’ve got somebody who isn’t doing their work, hold them responsible as a group. Everyone needs to do their part.
  • Stay focused on the task. Make your meetings count. Don’t drift into irrelevant subjects. Be mindful about what you need to accomplish.
  • Improve the mood of the group. Be positive. Be fun. Be appreciative of other people. Be full of good ideas. Do your part to make the environment a good one.
  • Don’t cast blame unfairly. If there is a problem in the group, begin by asking what you have done (or not done) to contribute to that problem—and what you might do to fix it. If there is conflict, try to work it out through respectful talk with each other (not e-mail, a horrible conflict medium). Try to understand the other person’s point of view as you discuss the issue.