This module explores why effective communication is key to group success and shares communication strategies and techniques to foster constructive, respectful communication in general and specific contexts like group meetings or dealing with difficult conversations. You’ll also learn about different modes and tools to support communication in group settings.
- Define how frequently group members should communicate/check in and how quickly responses are expected
- Share contact information so that everyone is easily reachable
- Share schedules and availability to make meeting scheduling easy
- Discuss how you will communicate and which communication methods/platforms the group will use. See our Communication & Planning Tools Guide
- Decide how your group wants to communicate with your professor or TA at different stages of the group project, e.g., at key deadline stages
- Follow these constructive communication practices to maintain positive relationships:
- Be courteous and clear
- Be respectful
- Engage in active and tolerant listening
- Make sure each person is heard
- Be prepared to give and receive constructive feedback
- Do not take comments or criticism personally
- Be open to diverse points of view
- Visit Teamwork Skills: Being an Effective Group Member for more tips and strategies for effective communication and teamwork
Tools, & Templates
Accordian menu necessary if there's only one item?
Plan Effective Meetings
Before each meeting:
- Identify key roles like facilitator, note keeper and time keeper. Consult the Guide to Group Roles & Maximizing Performance
- Decide on how long each meeting needs to be
- Create and share an agenda of topics to be covered so everyone can prepare for and focus on key issues
- Agree on a mechanism for group members to notify the facilitator of agenda items
- Discuss how the team will make decisions - majority rules? Full consensus? Another way?
After each meeting:
- Distribute notes in a timely manner so group members can read meeting minutes and take responsibility for designated follow-up items
- Refer to Meeting Strategies for Group Work, Group Meeting Minutes Template, or Minute-Taking Tips and Techniques guide for more information
Tools & Templates
- Accept that disagreements can happen due to differing opinions, ideas or issues
- Recognize that constructive disagreement or debate can lead to creativity and learning
- Beware of “groupthink”, where everyone agrees too quickly to avoid conflict and maintain group harmony with negative consequences for group performance and results. Learn more at: Groupthink: An Introduction video
- Focus on issues, tasks and goals, not individuals, and follow the ground rules defined in your Group Charter
- Use “I” or “We” rather than “You” statements to avoid an accusatory tone.
- Be respectful
- Articulate your needs
- Rethink revisit the objectives of the group project
- If the group is losing focus resulting in disharmony, re-energize and increase motivation by discussing goals like getting a good grade, trying something new, or learning from this collaborative experience
- Develop strategies for dealing with members who haven’t been communicating and/or a member who has been dominating
- Adopt proven techniques or strategies to engage in constructive problem solving
- Consult Resolving Conflict for more techniques and approaches
Tools & Templates
Be Intentional About Modes of Communication
- Decide early which modes of communication you will use to best achieve group tasks
- Some options include Microsoft Teams or Slack. Our Communication & Planning Tools Guide can help you learn more.
- Weigh the pros and cons of in-person or virtual synchronous (real time) communication (e.g., meetings, videoconferencing, phone, chat) versus asynchronous (time lag) communication (e.g. text or video messaging, project management apps) and agree which you will use for what purposes and tasks. For example:
- Bigger or higher stakes decisions should be made synchronously (in real-time), where active participation and interactive discussion are possible.
- Smaller decisions or logistics can be managed asynchronously (via text, email etc.), where each member can proceed at their own pace without a need for scheduling.
- Check out the Synchronous versus Asynchronous Communication Video
- Discuss accessibility needs or other concerns within the team regarding modes of communication
- Recognize that some team members may be in different locations and consider time differences
- If you are communicating online, check out: York 101 Virtual Learning Special Video and the York 101 Exploring the World of Netiquette Video for tips on using Zoom and netiquette.