Communication and Media – Group Interaction

free essayGathered in a group of four people, our task was to do the assigned tasks and projects and to assist one another in acquiring the course’s material as much as possible. To that effect, I believe I can say that we have worked as a project team most of the time. According to the course book, a project team is “a group of people with varied background and skills who work together to accomplish a specific task” (Lumsden & Lumsden, 2010, p. 8). There are four people with various backgrounds in my team. Two girls come from China and two are from Mexico. In order to prepare for the assignment better, we divided our responsibilities. Since the project was assigned by the professor, we have had small group meetings after each class to check on our progress and solve any problems that could arise. Outside of class, we clarify our issues by texting a lot. Once someone has a question, she sends a message and the group replies to it as soon as possible. In this way, our different skills contribute to the common cause. For example, when I do not understand what exactly I should do I turn to the girls for clarification. I send a text message to the group chat and some of the girls replies to it. As a matter of fact, it is Betty who replies more often. But all in all, we help each other to understand the task better or work out the strategy. We talk a lot to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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Lack of assigned leadership is also one of the characteristics of a team. In groups, the dominant point of view is often present and decisions are made by voting. Meanwhile, in teams, people make decisions based on general agreement of all the parties, and viewpoints are usually diverse (Lumsden & Lumsden, 2010, p. 13). Therefore, we act as a team.

Communication Effectiveness. Transactional & Task Processes.

A group can increase its potency through effective communication when each group member knows her/his task and what exactly she/he has to do to perform it. Transactional process involves give-and-take interactions when we talk about ourselves and our difficulties with the task, about the work of the team, and about our tasks. We have managed to create a positive climate in the team. We feel comfortable to share insecurities and difficulties and ask for advice. We share information and ideas, discuss different ideas and make decisions as to which idea to choose and how to implement it in terms of our assignment.

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Since we are a group, we divided the work. For example, for the presentation, Diane did the introduction part and came up with an activity; I did the history of Apple, the presentation goal and objective and designed the brochure. Yuge did the high and low context, stereotypes and non-verbal communication; and Betty did the strategies and checked the training manual and came up with the idea for an activity. If someone is unable to do the task another person can volunteer for the sake of the project. For example, once Diane was sick the day before the presentation and she was supposed to buy the necessary things for our presentation. I knew she was sick and suggested she stayed at home and took a good rest. I bought everything we needed for the presentation.

The way the transactional and task processes work in our group can be seen from the following example. Yuge wanted to discuss what stereotypes can be included into the assignment. When she shared her suggestions, no one said anything derogatory like, “Is this the best you can do?” or “You could have done it on your own.” On the contrary, we all welcome each other and try to work out the answers together. It shows that our transactional process is healthy and relaxed. We try not to make the task processes ineffective by saying discouraging things to one another. Inasmuch as task processes are things we specifically do for our assignment, transactional processes frame them and set the tone to the way the tasks are done.

Team Pressures and Conflict

As any group, we have conflicts. Mostly, our conflicts stem from different expectations each has for the others. For example, I expect that we all have a say in our project. And on the basis of the general good, we make the necessary decision. However, Betty always sticks to her own point of view. When we say what we think, Betty listens but does nothing about it. She is very assertive, and even when she agrees to accept other viewpoints, she does not actually do it. Even though I care about what we do, my usual reaction is to avoid the conflict. I know that Betty wants for our group to be better, so I just let her decide. The scenario is usually the following: at first, I present my opinion; after that I know it will not work and I keep quiet. I know we all want our project to be perfect. Even though there is a conflict, we try our best to avoid it.

As a result, we often practice groupthink. The concept of groupthink reflects a situation when, for the sake of cohesiveness and structure, a group avoids problem discussion and, consequently, problem solving. Therefore, our tendency to critical thinking affects the group’s openness to ideas, thus reducing its productivity. Sometimes, I start groupthink because I do not have any ideas about the question under examination and sometimes I do it in despair because I know that once Betty presents hers, there is no point for anyone to generate any more ideas. In such a case. I just support the ideas of the others. However, groupthink can easily be avoided if all group members share their ideas and then choose what is the best for the task at hand.

How It Works

Fortunately, we had no conflicts with deadlines. Probably, it is so because there were only four of us and each kept a close eye on what the others were doing as well as on the schedule. Also, we are highly organized and remember that deadlines are important. For example, we decided that we have to finish our part of the paper on Saturday night. Then, we all did it. We agreed to upload our part to the Google Doc and we all did it. Everyone keeps their word and there is no conflict on this matter.

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As I have already mentioned, one of the issues in our group is lack of an assigned leader and Betty, who takes upon herself unsolicited decision-making. Therefore, in order to avoid groupthink and complying with only one opinion, we had to work out a strategy. Our strategy was everyone’s activity and involvement. If other group members do not support an idea of one group member, the idea is not supported. In case of a critical issue, it is logical to consider risk, disadvantages, applicability, and practicality. For example, when we had to make a decision about dress code for the presentation, my idea was to wear a black blazer, a white T-shirt, and blue jeans. But Betty said that she wanted a black T-shirt. Yuge supported me. Diane said that she had both white and black T-shirts. So, thinking logically, we decided that a black T-shirt and a black blazer look very monochrome and monotonous. In this way, applicability and practicality helped solve the issue in that we agreed that a combination of black and white was better. Thus, Betty had to abide by our decision because she was outnumbered.