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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

October 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

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