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Introduction and thesis statement
The most crucial skills required of managers in are interpersonal communications skills which include teamwork and working effectively with culturally diverse individuals with a positive attitude (Vice and Carness, 2001). Research confirms that some of the most valuable and desirable skills among employees is the ability to interact with and relate to other employees at the workplace which are among the top rated skills leaving behind technical skills and expertise (Rubin & Morreale, 1996).
As such, it is extremely crucial for employees to develop their “soft skills” which among other skills include specific desired characteristic traits of good manners, the willingness to help and commit to tasks by assuming responsibility, the ability to be adaptable to change and distinct personalities, working in a tem for effectiveness and the building of positive relationships based on trust and good will for enhanced outcomes (Marshall, Patton, & Stocker, 1999).
This paper primarily aims to reflect upon my personal experiences of working in a group of four individuals to create a group presentation. The reflection will enable me to analyse the extent of positivity or negativity in the course of my interpersonal interactions with my peers, which will further enable me to reflect upon the importance of theories related to active listening skills, self disclosure, gender roles, leadership, decision making, conflict resolution and the distinct stages of development which occurred during the course of the presentation. The paper will function to provide me with valuable insight regarding my strengths and abilities of functioning in a group and those personal aspects which need improvement and development.
The Interpersonal communication process between the members of my group was positive which was possible due to the effective use of self disclosure, a necessary factor to enable the communication between the distinct personalities of the group. The communication between group members began with the initial exchange of greetings and wishes followed by defining the group tasks. This enabled all the team members to voice their confidence, expectations, fears and apprehensions, which is a crucial aspect for the advancement of communication to occur and proceed smoothly.
Popularly termed as self disclosure, the inter exchange of ideas and feelings which enable self revelations which in turn facilitates greater understanding of one another among team members. Such self disclosure also assists the development and progress of functionality to an advanced level (Solano and Dunman, 1985). Self disclosure is believed to have a highly positive impact on the effectiveness of communication (Duran, 1983). Communication skills associated with self disclosure include open mindedness, interactive communication and message skills (Ruben 1976, 1977).
Research confirms that self disclosure is an important factor in the communication process which enhances interaction between team members and facilitates the effectiveness of communication (Yum, 1987). However, it is necessary to have the right amount of self disclosure so that team members can trust one another and assist the development and progress of the project, as opposed to too mush disclosure which could create discomfort and dysfunctional relationships (Cozby, 1972).
Following the interpersonal communication which enabled us to understand each other and begin with the given task at hand, we proceeded to the preparation of meetings and speeches which occurred through a series of five crucial stages of development by Bruce Tuckman (1965) including forming, storming, norming and finally performing. The fifth stage adjourning refers to the moving on of the group after the completion of the project.
Group dynamics and the five stages
While the overall communication was positive, group dynamics have their share of conflicts which occur as a result of distinctive personalities among team members. The norming stage included an exchange of ideas and quick orientation session to initiate ideas and concepts which would be useful to the development of the final presentation. Research affirms focus groups are able to function effectively through efficient interpersonal interaction between members which facilitates the stimulation of new ideas necessary for the success and positive outcome of the project (Herndon, 2001).
Studies also indicate that the synergistic effect of members working in groups is highly beneficial due to the production of rich and valuable information as a result of positive intercommunication skills (Herndon, 2001). Additionally, groups enable participants to share information and insights which would have been impossible in other independent settings, since group dynamics assist the exchange of ideas, thoughts and discussion which result in the generation of data, beneficial for the success of the program or project (Lederman, 1990).
Our group dynamics were generally positive due to the positive communication and effective interactions. However, the next stage of storming (Tuckman, 1965) following forming was not as smooth as the forming stage. It was soon apparent that there were differences in ideas and the manner in which they would be executed. Typically speaking, the storming stage is believed to be a chaotic vying for leadership and trailing of group process, and differences in perceptions could tend to impeded in the development and progress of group activities (Tuckman, 1965).
My peers failed to understand my concern for quality of the presentation and I experienced lack of support since my ideas were not being taken seriously. I found my team mates only hearing me out without actually listening to me effectively or trying to understand my point of view and the effectiveness of my ideas.
Research confirms that there are occasions when team members fail to engage in active listening skills leading to the inability to understand the importance of another member’s ideas or concepts (Feyten, 1991). I also believe that gender roles was one reason why I may have failed to convince my team members that I was worthy of listening and my ideas would prove fruitful to the final presentation.
When I voiced my opinion regarding the simplicity of the slides and that they need to be attractive in nature, my team members failed to address my concerns and simply stated that they would look fine, rather than understanding my point of view and reaching an agreement by taking a middle path. One reason why I consider this to have occurred in the team is due to gender stereotypes where women have essentially played domestic roles and are considered to be supportive rather than assertive in nature.
Researchers who have studies the status characteristics theory have also indicated this concern and asserted that women are likely to be disadvantaged in social interactions as compared to men (Lucas, 2003). Studies in gender roles and women studies also indicate that women are more likely to be taken seriously in an all-women group as compared to mixed groups (Eccles, 1986). I consider this difference in gender to be an important form of discrimination which I faced during the course of the group presentation project.
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As a result of the gender based discrimination and inability to be heard and taken seriously, there was a personality clash between members of the group. I too added to the clash because I am a conscious person and was upset when I was not taken seriously and did not get a chance to effectively put my views and thoughts into action. One crucial reason for this is the coercive leadership style used by members of the team which promotes inflexibility and kills new ideas (Goleman, 2000). The use of in inappropriate style of functioning initiated a feeling of disturbance in me and caused me to believe that I did not have the power and ability to express myself freely (Bisson, 2002).
However, knowing very well that the group should not be disturbed because of this issue and the final outcome is an essential aspect, I decided to let the group continue functioning without ruining the purpose and climate of the group. It is this ability of mine to adjust and adapt to situations which enabled the transitioning of the group to norming so that an eventual agreement was reached regarding the operation of the group (Tuckman, 1965). We finally transitioned once again from norming to performing and soon began to practice individual tasks and taking the course to final objectives (Tuckman, 1965).
Finally, my group, collectively, was able to accomplish the final objective of the presentation we had set out to achieve, through mutual understanding and effort. The primary and most impressive feature of my group was the ability to focus on the final outcome, right from the initial stage, through the developmental stages and finally the conclusive stage. Needless to say, effective communication was the key to the success of the group and the skills of each member proved to be an asset to the final outcome of the project.
The focus of our group from the beginning was the successful and optimal achievement of the project as opposed to building and developing relationships. While we did pay attention to relationships, we did not let the purpose of the group to be lost and our primary purpose was not lost. Research proves that too much focus on building and developing relationships and friendships could impede with the main focus and objective of the group, but at the same time, it is essential for members to have balanced and cordial relationships, failing which groups could lose the ability to function effectively (Dinley, 1995).
Thus, the strongest point of my group was the ability to strike a middle path and ensure that relationships were balanced, not too friendly and not too strained, so that we could move smoothly with the group activities. Well begun is half done and our group focussed on the final outcome from the beginning which enabled us to complete the project efficiently and on time. Healthy and positive interpersonal communication skills enabled us to function without any major problems and the ability to adjust and resolve conflicts was a major asset of the group. With only room for improvement with regard to openness and value for peer members’ ideas, working in the group was a fantastic and crucial learning experience for me which will assist me in the initial stages of my professional career.
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