It is just not possible. Lydia straightens her back against the hard plastic chair. Brent is slumped next to her. His large hands are clasped, fingers laced together tightly. Even in the dim florescent lights and with his head down, Lydia can see his jaw clenching, unclenching, clenching. She reaches out and massages his stiff shoulder muscles. I don’t know why he is so worried, because it is just not possible.
Nothing to do but wait. Lydia audibly inhales then exhales the stagnant, odorless air of the clinic. Slow, measured, instrumental music plays quietly. Off white walls lead into undecorated white tiled floors. Two potted plants sit on the reception desk while two others sit on tables in between rows of chairs. The plants aren’t limp with brown, decaying leaves, but they aren’t blooming with lively colors either. Public service posters offering advice on everything from gonorrhea to birth control are pinned up on every wall of the waiting room. Thoroughly detailed posters that stare back at waiting room inhabitants without accusation and with sterile, stale reassurance. From outside of the massive tinted windows behind her, Lydia hears the chirping of what must be a nest of baby birds.
Lydia squirms, adjusting her body to the right then to the left. Its odd how the chairs are not uncomfortable, but are not comfortable either. I wonder what’s the deal with the woman and the girl? Mother and daughter maybe. The way the mother is sitting at the edge of the chair, with her back taut and her arms folded rigid across her chest, makes Lydia concerned that she is going to fall right off the chair. The daughter sits limp and still with her head down. Only her slightly parted lips can be seen from underneath her long brown hair. The mother slowly extends her petite hand and with slender fingers, brushes back her daughter’s hair. Her fingers pause briefly behind her daughter’s ear as her eyes glisten underneath eyebrows sharply squeezed together.
“Chirp, chirpy, chirp, chirp.”
A small, swift object flies by the large windows casting a shadow across Lydia’s legs. Lydia imagines the mother bird rushing to care for her babies.
Two women in their twenties lean back in their chairs, crossing their legs casually. Their manicured hands move briskly in whirls, fluttering as they speak.
“Does your boyfriend ever worry about having a kid? ‘Cause mine just doesn’t seem to think about it.”
“We’ve talked about it…I just can’t imagine it. Me with a baby! No way.”
“Hey, did you hear about the implant? I think I want to try it.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard of it. I haven’t tried it though. I’ve tried different sorts of birth control pills, condoms for women and the sponge…chirp.”
“The sponge didn’t work so well for me…chirp…chirpy, chirp.”
“Yeah, I…chirpy…chirp…chirp, chirp.”
The women’s voices evaporate into the constant chirping of the baby birds. There’s different kinds of birth control pills? There’s condoms for women? What the hell is a sponge? An implant for birth control? They haven’t talked about the counting method though.
Lydia’s sister had explained the counting method to her years ago, in a quiet and unwavering voice, like she was an authority passing down secret wisdom. Her sister had apparently heard it from some other girl who said she read it in a magazine. After speaking with her sister, Lydia asked her mother about it. Her mother was chopping vegetables for dinner at the time and had begun to chop the vegetables so vigorously that Lydia thought for sure she going to cut off her fingertips.
“Lydia, you shouldn’t even be thinking about such things. Just go finish your chores before dinner.”
In Junior High, Lydia asked about the counting method again during maturation class. She could never forget how the teacher’s eyes darted from student to student as she wrung her hands together.
“Let’s take a look at these packets,” the teacher spat out the words quickly.
The packets were entitled “Abstinence Until Marriage.”
Now her sister has five kids.
“Hhhuuuu,” Lydia sighs again.
How long have we been sitting here?
Her search for a clock along the STD PSA covered walls leads her to glance at Brent. Brent is the only male in the room. She looks back at him. His head is down and his eyes are transfixed on some spot on the floor.
I can’t wait to get out of here. We should go home and just turn on the music as loud as we can. Or, we could go for a drive, end up in some town we’ve never seen before and spend the night. Or we can just lounge around watching a really bad horror movie.
A woman in her mid-thirties catches the attention of all the women in the waiting room as she comes through the door that leads to the patient rooms. Every laugh, frown, and tear is etched softly on her face. She opens a patient file and pushes up her red plastic glasses with delicately plump hands. Brent keeps his head down. That spot must hold the secrets to life. The mother and her teenage daughter, the two young women and Lydia all watch the woman as a mixture of different emotions spark throughout the waiting room, like electric charges tingling on the surface of the skin.
“Pfffffff,” Lydia stands. “Yeah, that’s me.”
Brent pushes himself up gradually, stretching out his legs stiffly. In unison, and without looking at each other, Brent’s large, tense hand wraps around Lydia’s smaller, poised hand as they follow the woman into one of the even plainer patient rooms. At least the waiting room has plants and posters. The woman asks Lydia some preliminary, routine questions. Age, allergies, surgeries, last menstrual cycle-eighteen, yes, no, three months ago.
“Who is this young man?” the woman asks smiling at Brent.
“He’s my boyfriend. We’ve been living together for almost a year.”
The woman’s smile widens, “Its so wonderful to see a man accompanying his girlfriend for this.”
The woman hands Lydia the cup for the sample and gives her instructions.
“The facilities are the third door on your right. Place the cup on the tray just outside the restroom when you are done.”
It is just not possible, Lydia tells herself as she puts the sample in the designated tray. I’ve been counting the days between my cycles correctly. She stops for a drink of water from the water fountain. Even the water tastes bland here.
Lydia’s hand is steady and her back is straight as she opens the door and steps into the patient room. Brent’s taking detailed mental notes about another spot on the floor. Maybe this spot can tell him what the meaning of life is.
“It will be a few moments for the test.”
“Thank you,” Lydia nods as the woman leaves, quietly closing the door.
“Hhhuuuf,” Lydia sighs as she falls into the chair next to Brent. Briefly, he looks up from the interesting spot and stares at her. His eyes are framed by lines in between his eyebrows, in the bridge of his nose and at the top of his cheeks where is muscles are tightly pulled together in thought. His lips are quivering slightly, like they are trying to form words but nothing will come out. Even through his grimace…He has such a baby face. His hand reaches out and tenderly brushes Lydia’s knee, then his hands return to their clasped position and his eyes return to the floor.
Its completely silent. Lydia doesn’t notice she’s crossed her legs, right over left, left over right, then back again. Her foot starts moving up and down as she stares into different corners of the room. Now the whole bottom part of her leg, from her knee to her foot, is twitching up and down without any notice from her. It is just not possible. There is a clock on the wall in the room and Lydia watches the hands on the clock move steadily around the dial. She shuffles in her chair, folding her legs, and absently twitching her leg with each passing second. Maybe we could drive to Vegas tonight…A knock sounds on the door. The door inches slowly open and a bodiless head appears. The red plastic glasses now frame an expressionless mask. In the woman’s plump hands are pamphlets and paperwork.
“Well, Lydia, your test came back positive. You are pregnant.” The woman’s voice matches her mask.
Lydia looks blankly at the woman. What? That is not right. It is just not possible! Brent’s eyes take over more and more of his face each time he looks from the woman to Lydia and back again. His clasped hands seem to glow red except for the white indentions of where his fingers are pressed firmly into his skin on each opposite hand. Lydia and the woman are caught in silent staring contest. With each second passing, more weight presses down on Lydia’s chest, expelling more and more air from her lungs. Lydia looks from the pamphlet in the woman’s hand titled “Pregnancy, Adoption, Abortion” to the woman’s un-expression and loses the staring contest.
“Its ju-ust no-o-ot ppossib-ble!” Lydia’s mouth fumbles the words out as huge tears drown her confidence.
Her hands over her face only temporarily hold back the fountains of tears and snot. I can’t be pregnant! I counted correctly! I can’t have a baby! Brent and I just moved in together! I don’t know what to do with a baby! None of my family lives within a thousand miles of here! I don‘t know anyone here! As soon as her wet hands drop from her face, Brent grabs and holds them in his, without the slightest scowl at the snot.
The woman repositions herself in her chair. The rustling of the woman’s skirt reminds Lydia of the woman’s presence.
“It will be a difficult decision, but if you need help, there are resources available,” the woman says quietly then hands Lydia several pamphlets.
The woman’s consideration is useless. She could have just slapped Lydia across the face with the packets for how Lydia feels. Her head pounds with each rapid heartbeat and she feels her body gaining pregnancy weight with every second. She begins to suffocate on the stuffy air in the patient room.
“Thank you,” Lydia mumbles as she pushes all her newly acquired weight up and walks out of the patient room, then out of the clinic to Brent’s car.
A gentle rain shower has just passed, leaving the outside air crisp and light. Lydia inhales it in eagerly in gulps. Brent runs ahead of Lydia and opens the passenger side door for her before getting into the driver’s seat. They sit, unmoving, unspeaking, as Lydia watches the minutes go by on the digital clock on the dashboard.
“What am I going to do? What am I going to do? I can’t have a baby. I am alone here. What am I going to do?”
Tears, disbelief and questioning flow in a repetitive cycle. Brent just stares out of the windshield at a world which now looks so different from how it looked just an hour ago. After several minutes pass, Brent turns to look at Lydia. His tense expression melts.
“We are going to do whatever you want to do,” he asserts.
His large arms enclose her in several unforced but slow motions. She can feel the beating of his heart against the side of her head. Her sobs dissolve amid the rhythm.
She pulls away and lets her heavy body mold itself to the car seat. The entrance of the clinic expands, full frame, in front of her. Spring surrounds her. New life surrounds her. The fresh air and warm sun enfold her like a soft, clean blanket. All rationality becomes obscured by an infantile urge to fall asleep wrapped in the comfort.
“Chirp, chirpy, chirpy…chirp…chirpy.”
Her thoughts refocus as the baby birds continue to call for their mother. Brent’s fingers weave through hers and the minutes on the digital clock change, over and over again. She stares, unblinking, at the clock. It is time to grow up. It is time to choose and build my life.
On that day, the rain drenched me in seconds and clung to my clothes in cold layers. You remained conveniently dry, in a little black box. Your picture stood behind you. A strange thought occurred to me. The camera steals your soul. Such a strange thought. Looking at your picture, reading your picture, I thought I could see it. Your smile was slight, turning just the corners of your lips, pushing up gently your cheeks, and just almost touching the edges of your eyes. Your eyes were large, and young with hopeful determination. Your slender face and neck were unmarked by the mutilations of time. I could glimpse, just briefly, into a time of your life. I could glimpse, just barely, into a piece of your soul. All of your aspirations, before the self destruction, frozen for generations.
I fit into your clothes.
Will I fit into your life?
Will I fit into your eyes?
Will I fit into your laugh?
Will I fit into your smiles?
Will I fit into your dreams?
Will I fit into your intellect?
Will I fit into your tears?
Will I fit into your regret?
Will I fit into your pain?
Will I fit into your anger?
Will I fit into your disease?
Will I fit into your self destruction?
Will I fit into your death?
As standing by, aside to God, exists
through birth, a mother. Take away its each
unfailing tear, intrinsic love persists-
resists to punish but insists to teach.
A child, mistaken, feeds, a glutton rife
devours an Omni presence who presides
with ever mindful care, devout to life,
existence in dependence she resides.
Despite a lonely presence hidden well,
untold regrets the devils surely reap.
Content inside guilt, her destruction dwells,
and tells of horrid tales as sorrow creeps.
Imperfect loss and love combine comfort,
untainted by the flaws of rage and hurt.
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
In great, unconscious palaces,
vivid, pearly and florescent,
from dusk to dawn
we stumble upon
Teased with glimpses
of paradise and
tempered by the torments –
entangled in images of hell.
Upon a pillow of stone
a head, heavy and weary rests.
Tuck away the day
as the edges of reality frays.
Inside the cemetery for
buried in the blankets of earth,
is a world in which
hell and paradise intertwine,
mutate and morph
from each other,
leaving the sufferer
tortured by the touching,
comforted by the beating,
and vindicated by the fleeting.
Despite the surrounding absurdity,
in between the telltale reason
of the head,
and the rising swell
of the heart,
is the place it will dwell.
Too unrefined for social discourse,
goddamned with no recourse,
every night we succumb
to the departing sun.
For the Group Communication/Problem Solving Project, our group used John Dewey’s systematic reflective-thinking sequence problem solving process to address the “Messy Housemates” problem. The “Messy Housemates” problem required us to think critically and creatively to devise a plan for ensuring all roommates participated in household chores, while maintaining a comfortable, conflict-free environment.
Our group had many notable accomplishments while working together. Everyone actively participated in the process and contributed to the final report. We also succeeded at encouraging each other to think creatively for solutions and we achieved cohesiveness without succumbing to group think.
Conversely, our group struggled with maintaining our functional roles. Additionally, our group had issues with utilizing email as our follow up communication channel after our face-to-face meetings.
Individually, I feel my strengths were giving praise and keeping the meetings on track. On the other hand, I feel my weaknesses were taking on too much of a leadership role and not utilizing active and effective listening methods to make sure I was truly understanding my group mates.
I learned setting a common group goal at the beginning of the project and keeping track of the group’s progress toward this goal helps achieve cohesiveness among group members. Also, I learned functional roles should match each individual and email may not be as reliable of a communication source as assumed. Additionally, I learned each group member in a self-directed work group would benefit more from the experience by taking on a leadership role of their own specific areas. I also learned utilizing active and effective listening methods could save time while avoiding misunderstandings.
Ultimately, I would make several recommendations for improving group communication and creating an environment where every group member enjoys more and benefits equally from the experience. First, I would recommend group members have a stated, shared goal, and openly keep track of their progress toward this goal. Secondly, I would recommend group members consider what functional roles would fit their personalities instead of taking on just any role. Next, I would recommend following up any email correspondence with another form of communication, such as text messaging. Additionally, I would recommend each group member be assigned full responsibility, to completion, for specific areas of the project. Finally, I would recommend for individuals to listen actively by paraphrasing or asking clarifying questions. By following these recommendations, individuals working in groups could enjoy and benefit more from the experience while avoiding frustration and misunderstandings.
The problem our group chose to address was the “Messy Housemate” problem. The steps to take to address the problem were already outlined via John Dewey’s reflective-thinking sequence. Our group was able to just simply follow the outline and encountered no difficulties in doing so. First, we defined the problem as an open question, which was: How could we create a comfortable environment where everyone cooperates in household chores?
Secondly, we researched and analyzed all aspects of the problem, namely, living in an unsanitary home. The aspects we considered were characteristics (social, legal, health, and psychological aspects of the problem), stakeholders (who would be affected by the problem), resources available (to assist with solutions for the problem) and history (what has been done in the past to address similar problems). Everyone in our group contributed to analyzing the problem and as such, we discovered the problem was incredibly multi-faceted, involving practically anyone who the roommates would come into contact with and affecting every area of the roommates lives.
Thirdly, we developed criteria our solution would have to fit to be an adequate solution to the problem. Our group, again, actively participated in compiling a list of criteria to address the many aspects of the problem. For example, the solution would need to be fair, be able to accommodate extenuating circumstances, and have procedures in place should the problem persist.
Fourthly, we brainstormed solutions and fifthly, we analyzed them based on the criteria. During our brainstorming, our group, again, actively participated which resulted in a plethora of different ideas. Ultimately, we decided, in order to address all the aspects of the problem, our best solution would be to combine several ideas into one solution.
Finally, we developed a plan to implement the solution. Each group member took on a specific part of the implementation of the problem. We combined all parts, such as the “Wheel of Chores,” roommate contract, terms for “The Jar,” required cleaning supplies and the costs of housekeeping services, to implement the final solution.
In the following pages, I will detail the successes and set backs our group faced as a whole, as well as what I faced as an individual working within the group. Ultimately, I will show the benefits to others (as well as myself for my own future group projects) for repeating our successes, and provide recommendations to others (as well as myself) for how to avoid our set backs.
Our group had many strengths. First, everyone in our group participated actively in the process. I feel our group members were encouraged to participate due to the use of “overhead” and “direct questions” (Adler, Elmhorst 288). In Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions, Adler and Elmhorst define “overhead” questions as being questions which are “directed toward the group as a whole, and anyone is free to answer” and “direct questions” as questions which are “aimed at a particular individual, who is addressed by name” (288). To encourage participation, our group used a combination of both of these types of questions. By asking overhead questions, everyone was invited to respond to comments or to offer their ideas. Conversely, if a group member was not participating as much, then other group members would ask the person directly what their thoughts on an idea or comment were.
Secondly, our group did a fantastic job of “encouraging creativity” through “brainstorming” (Adler, Elmhorst 267). I truly feel this is one area in which our group really excelled. Adler and Elmhorst define “brainstorming” as “an approach that encourages free thinking and minimizes conformity” (267). During our brainstorming meeting, our group did an excellent job of coming up with as many ideas as possible by, as Adler and Elmhorst suggest, not criticizing any of the ideas, allowing group members to speak freely, and by “hitchhiking” on each other’s ideas (267). For example, many of our ideas, such as rewards and punishments, resulted in subsequent, more specific solutions by building upon the original idea.
Finally, our group achieved “an optimal level of cohesiveness” by sharing “compatible goals,” sharing “norms,” and by making “progress toward[s] [our] goals” (Adler, Elmhorst 264-65). Our shared goal for the group was to do the best job we could in order to, ultimately, get a good grade on the project. By having a shared goal, our group was able to focus on and work towards the outcome, together. Additionally, during our first meeting, we set up our group norms, or “informal[…]rules about what behavior is appropriate in a group (Adler, Elmhorst 261). Everyone in our group agreed upon and agreed to follow our established group norms. Due to this, everyone in our group shared the same expectations of each other. Also, every group meeting was followed up on with an email to all group members detailing what we had done in the meeting and what steps we needed to do for our next meeting. By sending out a progress email, detailing our current progress and outlining our next steps, our group could see ourselves getting closer to our shared group goal. As Adler and Elmhorst state, “When a group makes progress toward its target, members are drawn together; when progress stops, cohesiveness decreases” (264).
Our cohesiveness, however, did not deteriorate into “group think” (Adler, Elmhorst 265). Adler and Elmhorst define “group think” as “an unwillingness, for the sake of harmony, to examine ideas critically” (265). Even though our group was able to reach agreements on issues, we actively encouraged new ideas and participation from each other via the use of overhead and direct questions. Due to our use of open ended direct and overhead questions (such as “How would classmates of the roommates be affected by the roommates unsanitary living conditions, Ethan?” or “What do you guys think would be important for our solution to accomplish?”) to promote participation, we did not succumb to “group pressure to conform,” “self-censorship,” or the “illusion of unanimity” associated with group think (266). For example, just because some people were not interested in a particular idea, others in the group did not feel obligated to go along with the idea. For example, several group members were not initially interested in the concept of a “roommate contract” as part of our final solution, but they listened to the idea anyway and eventually the idea was implemented as part of the solution. The “roommate contract” example demonstrates how one group member who liked the idea did not conform simply because of group pressure and other members of the group did not apply pressure on the member to conform, but listened openly, to the idea. Additionally, the “roommate contract” example shows how the individual group member did not fall into “self-censorship” and the group as a whole did not have any misconceptions about everyone all agreeing when everyone didn’t.
Quite honestly, I truly feel our group experienced many more successes in working together than set backs. However, our group had some minor weaknesses. At the beginning of our problem solving process, we each took on “functional roles,” namely, “task roles” and “relational roles” (Adler, Elmhorst 252-53). “Functional roles” “involve functions that are necessary for the group to do its job” (Adler, Elmhorst 253). There are two types of functional roles; “task roles” which are “an important part in accomplishing the job at hand,“ and “relational roles” which “help keep the interaction between members running smoothly” (Adler, Elmhorst 253). During our time together, each of us drifted away from our assigned roles and took on different roles altogether. Where one person was suppose to be the facilitator, another the procedural monitor and another the participation encourager, toward the end of our group project, the members assigned these roles actually moved out of these roles and others took on these roles. It appeared as if the roles we originally assigned ourselves did not seem to match our personalities. Therefore, toward the end, we just naturally took on the roles which most matched our individual characters. However, at times, due to this unstated transition of roles, at times the roles themselves were completely discarded, meaning, no one acted in any of the roles. Due to the breakdown of the functional roles, at times our group meetings did not run as smoothly as they could have. For example, at one point no one seemed to know what, if anything, was left to be done for the project. Therefore, other people would take on additional roles to make up for the missing roles.
Also, our group faced some challenges with trying to communicate by use of email. While all of our meetings were conducted via face-to-face communication, follow up in between meetings was conducted primarily via email and text messaging. We felt emailing follow up correspondence would “make it easier to comprehend lengthy, detailed messages” as well as be more speedy and convenient (Adler, Elmhorst 27). However, our group encountered several issues with emails not being received and attachments not being readable which caused delays and frustration. By the time we discovered the email was not received or the attachment was unable to be opened, several days had passed since the original email was sent. The delay in feedback caused frustration in compiling the final report.
Individually, we all had our own strengths and weaknesses. One strength I exhibited was regarding interpersonal skills and “giving praise” (Adler, Elmhorst 131). Adler and Elmhorst state “Sincere praise, delivered skillfully, can work wonders” and they offer several tips on how to genuinely praise others (131). Throughout working with my group, I made a conscious effort to praise other group members for their contributions. Personally, I feel when someone knows they have done a good job, they will know what to do to continue to do a good job and they will want to continue to do a good job. Also, it makes people feel good and it makes working with others more enjoyable if they are feeling good.
In order for the praise to be beneficial, according to Adler and Elmhorst, one should “praise promptly” and “make praise specific” (131). During my time working with my group, I praised several group members. For example, I praised Diego on offering great insight into how to be more specific with one of our criteria. I also praised Skyler on offering great suggestions to the solution of the problem. I praised Bryon for including some great insight on legal issues regarding our solution. I also praised Ethan on doing a great job on writing up the policies and procedures for “The Jar” for the final report. I feel I praised promptly and praised specifically in each of these situations.
Another of my strengths was to “keep discussions on track” by “summariz[ing] and redirect[ing] the discussion” (Adler, Elmhorst 289). It is bound to happen whenever people are working together that the group is going to get sidetracked by some random conversation. While our group did a great job of staying focused, for the most part, there were times where our conversation would go off into unrelated topics. A certain amount of off topic conversation could be beneficial for groups as it lightens the atmosphere through humor, which allows group members to feel more comfortable with each other. In this case, the old cliché adage about all work and no play is very true.
However, too much off topic conversation can cause delays and frustrations. Therefore, when our group members would continually discuss weekend plans, families, jobs or other school items, I attempted to diplomatically refocus the conversation by “summariz[ing] and redirect[ing] the discussion” (Adler, Elmhorst 289). Adler and Elmhorst suggest “tactfully summarizing what has been accomplished and mentioning the next task” as a way to summarize and redirect the discussion (289). One way I tried to do this was to add a comment to the off topic discussion (which acknowledged I was hearing what the others were saying), then go back to the on topic issue by going over the last thing we had done or discussed, then I would ask another group member their ideas or suggestions on what was last discussed.
On the other hand, one of my weaknesses was taking on more of a leader role. Our group was a “self-directed work team” and as such, each member should have been able to take on a primary responsibility, or leadership, over specific areas in order to have “the power to shape events” (Adler, Elmhorst 246). However, over time, while each group member actively helped contribute to several areas of the project, I took on the responsibility to tie up any loose ends, and to finalize everything for the report. By taking on this responsibility, I feel it lessened the other group members’ feelings of being fully responsible for their own individual aspects of the project. Even though I forwarded all finalized information to the entire group for their review and sought their feedback on changes, I feel by me taking on the ultimate finalization of the project, other group members may have not felt they had “the power to shape events” or benefited as much as they could have from the group experience.
Additionally, I feel I could have done a better job of “listening to understand” by “ask[ing] questions” and “paraphrasing content” (Adler, Elmhorst 81-3). Several times during our group meetings, one of my fellow group mates would express an idea or make a comment and I would interpret it entirely differently from how they meant it. In these situations, my group member would have to rephrase or further explain their comments. Even though it worked out in the end when my group mates would further clarify their position, these types of miscommunications could have resulted in larger problems.
Miscommunications, even if only briefly, can cause frustration to both the sender of the message and the receiver of the message. Frustrations due to miscommunications can damage relationships between group members. Also, misunderstandings due to miscommunications can cause delays in getting projects completed or result in more work because of having to redo parts of the project. In my group’s case, we were lucky the delays were only wasted minutes instead of potentially wasted hours or days.
I have several recommendations for future group projects I or others may be involved in. First, I would recommend group members have a stated, shared goal, and openly keep track of their progress toward this goal. As noted by Adler and Elmhorst previously, cohesiveness is achieved within a group by having a shared goal and making progress toward this goal. Once a group has been formed, one of the first items on their agenda for their first meeting could be to just informally discuss what each member’s goal is for the project. Together, the group could have an explicitly stated shared group goal and following each of their subsequent meetings, they could detail their progress toward their goal and the steps needed to reach their goal. By having a shared goal and seeing the group make progress toward this goal, group members feel united and share in a positive experience.
I would also recommend group members consider what functional roles would fit their personalities instead of taking on just any role. Task and relational roles, when assigned nonchalantly and without consideration, will become abandoned and potentially useless unless the roles fit the individuals who are trying to fulfill them. Therefore, before assigning functional roles, group members should consider which roles fit their personalities or which roles would be enjoyable for them to fill.
Also, I would recommend following up any email correspondence with another form of communication, such as text messaging. Following up emails with text messages immediately alerting the other members the email was sent and asking the other members to alert the sender as soon as possible as to if the email was not received or the attachment was unable to be opened would make the email communication channel more effective. By following up email correspondence with a quick and simple text, the group could avoid delays and frustration in completing the project.
Additionally, I would recommend each group member be assigned full responsibility, to completion, for specific areas of the project. If each group member were to have full responsibility over their own specific areas of the project, then each group member would benefit from taking on a leadership position. Additionally, each member would benefit from gaining more experience and knowledge of the final outcome of the project.
Finally, I would recommend for individuals to listen actively by paraphrasing or asking clarifying questions. In order to overcome any possible miscommunications, Adler and Elmhorst suggest asking “sincere questions” and “paraphrasing” (82). “Sincere questions are genuine requests for information” according to Adler and Elmhorst (82). When I encountered situations with my group mates where I wasn’t entirely certain of their meaning, I should have asked questions to “gather facts and details, clarify meanings, and encourage a speaker to elaborate” (Adler, Elmhorst 82). Also, I could have “paraphrased content” (Adler, Elmhorst 83). “Paraphrasing content” “plays back the receiver’s understanding of the explicit message” (Adler, Elmhorst 83). By relaying my understanding of my group mates comments, I could have saved time and further avoided any possible frustration.
Ultimately, and overall, our group worked incredibly well together. Everyone actively participated and encouraged each other toward creativity in order to achieve a shared goal. We achieved a high level of cohesiveness by detailing and outlining our progress toward our shared goal but still avoided group think. I contributed to the success of the group by praising my group mates and keeping the meetings on track. Due to these strengths, we came up with a viable solution to the “Messy Housemate” problem which addressed all aspects of the problem.
However, we could have saved time and avoided frustration by following up emails with text messages and I could have saved time and avoided frustration by listening to understand through asking sincere questions and paraphrasing for clarity. Additionally, each group member could have benefited more from the experience and enjoyed the experience more by taking on a leadership role for their own specific areas of the project and taking on functional roles which fit more closely their personalities.
Groups can function more enjoyably, effectively and successfully by applying each of the above communication concepts.
Adler, Ronald B., and Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst. “Chapter 1: Communicating at Work.” Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions. Ed. Michael Ryan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
Adler, Ronald B., and Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst. “Chapter 3: Listening.” Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions. Ed. Michael Ryan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
Adler, Ronald B., and Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst. “Chapter 5: Interpersonal Skills.” Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions. Ed. Michael Ryan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
Adler, Ronald B., and Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst. “Chapter 8: Working in Teams.” Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions. Ed. Michael Ryan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
Adler, Ronald B., and Jeanne Marquardt Elmhorst. “Chapter 9: Effective Meetings.” Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions. Ed. Michael Ryan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.