You are here

The Sage website, including online ordering services, will be unavailable due to system maintenance on June 15 between 2:00 am and 8:00 am BST. If you need assistance, please contact Sage at  
Thank you for your patience and we apologise for the inconvenience.

Group Communication Pitfalls

Group Communication Pitfalls
Overcoming Barriers to an Effective Group Experience

First Edition
  • John O. Burtis - University of Northern Iowa, USA
  • Paul D. Turman - Nebraska State College System, Lincoln, NE, South Dakota Board of Regents, USA

November 2005 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This text treats groups and the work involved in grouping as useful tools humans have developed for responding to pressures or demands faced by group members. As these pressures and demands toward grouping arise, the differences between effective and ineffective groups may be small (as they begin to manifest), but they can become very large when measured by final group outcomes. Thus, it is important to be aware of the signs that a group is not doing well and to know how to help a group begin to do better.

This book assumes an orientation that expects and detects group pitfalls as they arise, providing students with the foundation for overcoming barriers to effective group experiences. By assuming this orientation, this book is designed to 1) provide a map of the group pitfall terrain, and 2) demonstrate how people working well together can use the struggle against such pitfalls to improve their groups.

Unit I: We Co-construct Our Groups by Communicating
1. Why Study Group Communication Pitfalls?
Overview of the Book

Why Do Groups Matter Enough to Make a Study of Them?

Definitions of "Communication", "Group", and "Pitfalls"

Casting a Wide Net to Include All Pitfalls and Breakdown

Group Communication Pitfalls by Commission or by Omission

The Breakdown-Conducive Group Framework

Why Should We Focus Our Study of Groups on Group Communication Pitfalls?

2. How Grouping and Group Direction Help Create Effective Group Experiences
The Universals of Grouping Activity

The Framework for Grouping and Group Direction

Rhetorical Situation and a Purgatory Puddle

Unit II: We Struggle to Co-construct and Frame Our Circumstances and Processes
3. Pitfalls in Task and Supragroup Exigencies
Groups as Systems

Purgatory Puddle Pitfalls

Supragroup Pitfalls

Wrong Task for a Group

How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

4. Personnel Pitfalls
"Wrong Group for the Task" Pitfalls





How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

5. Pitfalls in Grouping Techniques, Tendencies, and Process Prizes
Grouping Techniques

Technique Pitfalls

Grouping Tendencies: Norms and Roles

Norm Pitfalls

Role Pitfalls

Process Prizes

Process Prize Pitfalls

Deliberation Outcome Pitfalls

6. Pitfalls in Confusion, Conformity, Conflict, and Group Consciousness: Grouping Concomitants
Confusion Pitfalls

Conformity Pitfalls

Conflict Pitfalls

Consciousness Pitfalls

How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

7. Pitfalls in Vision and Direction Giving
Vision/Outcome Pitfalls

Savior Complex Pitfalls

Ascension Pitfalls

Transitions Pitfalls

How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

Unit III: We Co-construct Our Exigencies for Grouping Into Our Group Outcomes
8. (Un)Intended Group Outcomes
Dynamics Involved in Potential Group Outcomes

A Set of Potential Group Outcomes

9. To Group or Not to Group, That Is the Question
General Exigencies Against Grouping

Distrust of Grouping

Distrust of Self as a Grouping Member

Distrust of Any Aspect of This Particular Grouping Effort

Inertia and Specific Exigencies Against Grouping

How Exigencies Against Grouping May Manifest

Expecting, Detecting, and Correcting These Pitfalls: General Orientational Advice

10. Observing Groups Well
Observing Groups

Improving Observational Focus and Quality

Observing the Purgatory Puddle

Observing The Way/Process

Observing the Vision/Outcome and the Savior Complex


"They have done this with a rich, provocative, and creative conceptual vocabulary that will resonate for readers who practice, supervise others' practice, teach about or do research in group life and group work."
Paul H. Ephross, MSW, PhD, Professor, University of Maryland School of Social Work

Paul H. Ephross
University of Mayland School of Social Work
Social Work With Groups

For instructors

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781412915359

ISBN: 9781412915342

SAGE Knowledge is the premier social sciences platform for SAGE and CQ Press book, reference and video content.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.