Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Solving Problems in the Group

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Conflict is natural and sometimes even necessary to work together effectively.

But sometimes it escalates and makes it even more difficult to focus on what you need to

get done.

In this video, well cover some strategies to help you avoid or work through some potential

conflicts in your group.

Scheduling problems Conflicting schedules can create roadblocks

to getting things done.

It is important to be understanding and put yourself in your group membersshoes.

All the group members may have to compromise a little bit to find the best option.

For example, Kaitlyn lives an hour outside the city.

Her group always wanted to meet up on Friday, when they didnt have any classes, rather

than a day when they were already on campus.

That meant that Kaitlyn had to drive an extra two hours to get there and back.

She was frustrated because she felt that others werent compromising or considering her


To fix their problem, Kaitlyns group took turns picking the time and location of the

meetings; that way, everyone had at least one meeting that was convenient for them.

They also started having some meetings online, using tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, and


(Interpersonal) Group conflict As we mentioned before, conflict among group

members is natural, but it can also distract you from working on your project.

The important thing is to focus on your task.

For example, Steve and Joe had a disagreement at the first group meeting, and they stopped

speaking to each other.

They only communicated to the other members of the group, which disrupted the groups

collaborative environment.

It wasnt a very effective team.

To solve their problem, Steve and Joe realized that they didnt need to become best friends;

they just needed to get along well enough to work on their project together.

They tried not to let personal feelings affect their work, even if their feelings were hurt.

They also tried to be compassionate towards each other.

Uneven contribution Are some people doing too much or too little?

This imbalance of work is a common complaint about group work.

It creates tension and is unfair to group members.

The best way to avoid uneven contribution is set up clear guidelines and expectations

at the start of your project.

A good way to do this is to create a group contract.

For example, in this group, Jessica was doing most of the work.

She felt like Joe, Steve, and Kaitlyn were slacking off.

They felt like Jessica wouldnt give up control and let them contribute.

To solve this problem, the group made a contract where they assigned roles and responsibilities

equally, so each group member knew what they were responsible for accomplishing.

This made it apparent that Jessica had been taking on more than her fair share of the

work, so the group split things up a bit more evenly.

Different expectations Different expectations can create tension

because the group is not working towards the same goal.

Is the group working towards perfection or just passing?

Are you going to work on the project in plenty of time, or procrastinate?

Early communication about expectations is key.

Its also important to set realistic goals, and to make a timeline of how the project

will get done.

For example, Steve is an overachiever and he was working towards a perfect grade.

He pictured a presentation with animated videos and handouts that would require a lot of work

throughout the semester.

On the other hand, Joe would have been happy with just having something to hand in.

He was not prepared to spend a lot of time on the project.

To solve their problem, they discussed their expectations and came to a consensus about

what their goal was as a group.

They set a realistic goal that they felt that they could accomplish, and they made a timeline

of how they would do it.

Getting stuck When you hit a mental roadblock, it is discouraging

and can lead to procrastination and avoidance.

when this happens, you can work together to brainstorm ideas.

For example, when the group members were stuck, they were tempted to put off working on the

project until later, hoping that inspiration would strike at some point in the future.

That wasnt really a very effective way to work.

Luckily, they were working in a group, so there were several people working on getting


They started by re-reading the expectations and goals for the assignment, and then brainstormed

ideas as a group.

They created a mind map to visualize connected ideas.

Group thinkWhen members of a group agree with other group

members in order to avoid conflict, it is known asgroup think’.

There is one accepted point of view in the group, and everyone sticks to it.

The problem with this is that group think stifles creativity and constructive evaluation

of alternative ideas.

Considering other perspectives and ideas will improve your process.

For example, Kaitlynn had a really good idea, but she didnt speak up because she didnt

want torock the boat.’

Other people in the group all seemed to agree on a different point of view, so she kept

her thoughts to herself.

To solve their group-think problem, the group embraced diverse opinions, and thought about

them critically.

Kaitlyn decided to voice her alternative idea, and her group members considered it with an

open mind.

Try these strategies in your group projects to help your group run smoothly.

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