Thursday, August 18, 2011

Please don't put Hitler in my group

He is impossible to work with.  Everyone is so scared of him that they just go along with whatever wacked-out idea he comes up with.  People not only agree with everything he says, they go out of their way to come up with ideas that they think he would like.  They are falling all over themselves to try and prove how good they are, and how hard they are working.  Like Haycock reminds us this can be a time of chaos where we think we are working well as a group but really we’re gearing up to invade Russia.

Twenty years ago as an undergraduate, group work scared me.  It always seemed like some A-type personality would take control of the project and leave me coasting along feeling guilty and incompetent. 

My Aunt Deb recently took a graduate level course, which ate up her weekends with group work that she couldn’t stop complaining about; this was a vivid reminder of my dislike for group work.   I admit as I try to decide what classes to take at SJSU, I wince when reading that a course involves group work.

My world was shaken then reading (I’m just too impatient to listen to the videos) Haycock and Irwin’s lectures about group work because they made me recognize the anti-group prejudices I have been harboring.  

Top 5 things that have changed in the last 20 years that will make me better at group work.

5.        Before if I was nervous about asking someone for a favor I would skirt around the issue hoping the person would volunteer – now I just ask.

4.        I have to come the truly understand that conflict is a good thing – not without consequences but necessary nonetheless.

3.        I drink coffee now.

2.        Email lets me write my message (for example asking my husband to do a job) and then go back and insert the required “smoothing the way” (for example thanking him for all his hard work) into the beginning.

1.        I understand that others can’t read my mind and that I really need to state upfront what I expect from any interaction.


Shannon Stalter said...

Oh man! Thank you for your hilarious post. It is still quite early here so I appreciate the opportunity to start the day laughing!!

Jennifer Alfonso-Punzalan said...

Your blog post title is definitely eye-catching! Thank you for your Top 5 list, as I am a big fan of lists. I'm partial to #3 and #2. I hope that with online learning, I'll be more thoughtful of what I ask/say, and how I ask/say it. Your #2 reminds me of some advice I'd learned: when you need to break bad news or ask a favor, cushion it between two nice statements. ("Sweetie, you're so strong. Can you please take out the trash and recycling now because the truck is rounding the corner? I love you!") For me, this works most of the time!