In any group project that I have ever been involved with, Communication has been a key component to its success. Indeed, discussing a course of action, creating a plan, and talking through all aspects of an assignment can be the difference between a good and a great group mark.
However, communication doesn’t just mean talking – I have worked with a number of individuals who were under this impression, and unfortunately their constant voicing of their own opinions and arguments often discouraged other group members from sharing their own.
And so I affirm that, especially when it comes to group work, communication does not simply mean talking. It is meant to be a system of reciprocation, and requires all involved to show respect for one another. If performed well, communication can mean a great experience for all involved, and an even greater end result.
Yet, the question remains – how does one communicate well?
I have consulted a number of articles from various sources (I will include them below for reference), but ultimately I have tried to incorporate many of the principles for good communication which I have found – through experience – to be most effective.
1) Set ground rules
When you meet up with your group, make sure to set the ground rules for discussion (i.e. let others complete their thought before providing your feedback, try not to interrupt others, make sure to provide opportunities for others to speak, open dialogue, etc). This can help ensure that everyone – the introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between – gets an opportunity to communicate their thoughts.
2) Active Listening
Don’t just wait for others to finish talking. Be a listener. Listening is just as important (if not more so) than voicing your own opinion – after all, as mentioned previously, communication is a system based on reciprocity!
Listening however, is not a passive action. Keep your ears open and your brain running. Take notes, ask questions for clarification, and stay attentive; I promise that you will take much more away from the conversation.
4) What goes unsaid does not always go unheard
Body language & tone of voice. In a heated discussion, these two things can often say much more than words. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice at all times, and remember to leave nothing unsaid!
5) Short and Sweet keeps it upbeat
When you have a lot to say, sometimes the best way to get your argument across is keeping it short and sweet – that means, trying to state your argument in the most concise and effective way possible. This is great for you, since it will help keep you on task and on point, and for your group members, since they’ll be more inclined to pay attention to a shorter, easier-to-follow argument than a long-winded speech
6) Make your conversation meaningful
Maintain eye contact; use active listening; ask questions; ultimately, show the other people in you group that you care to hear their arguments and opinions, and make the conversation meaningful for everyone!
7) Learn to express yourself in more than one way
Sometimes the way you understand something is not the way others understand something. Knowing how to explain your argument in more than one way can help others to better understand your point of view – not to mention that it can help you understand their’s!
Follow the link to read more about it (it’s #6)
9) Be appreciative
Communicating an argument can often be difficult work – so make sure to thank your group members for their contributions. A simple thank you can go quite a long way!
Here are some other links for you to check out:
Hope these tips help you in overcoming the challenges of communication in group work – best of luck!
~ Christopher Ford