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Conducting Effective Intra-Group Interactions

By Charles Craver

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Persons who study bargaining interactions frequently focus almost entirely on typical negotiations between individuals or small groups. As a result, they fail to appreciate the degree to which people must negotiate with each other when they work together in large groups. For example, business firms or government agencies may form committees to work on particular projects or to provide more general feedback. If the persons in such groups appreciate the degree to which the participants must negotiate with each other, they can significantly enhance their capacity to achieve optimal results.

In many instances where ten, fifteen, or even twenty people are working together, only five or six individuals do most of the talking. This may reflect their formal organizational status, or their expansive egos. Studies have demonstrated that when this happens, the groups fail to obtain significant input from other members, and frequently achieve less-than-optimal results. The recommendations generated are based on the input obtained from a limited number of participants, who may not have considered other options. When all group members are encouraged to participate, final outcomes are based more on group contributions than on individual contributions, and tend to reflect a thoughtful consideration of all relevant alternatives. It is thus critical for group leaders to elicit feedback from all of the group members.

Leaders should establish agendas that guarantee comments and suggestions from everyone - and which limit the degree to which particular persons can dominate. They might describe the various issues to be addressed, and then elicit input from everyone. They can limit the time each person may speak, and be sure to include all members. If some individuals feel uncomfortable speaking in such group settings, leaders may ask them questions designed to elicit their complete thoughts. Such an approach is likely to induce such people to participate more comfortably.

In many group settings involving both male and female participants, the men dominate the discussions. They talk the vast majority of the time. Many women feel hesitant to speak in such settings, and may not do so unless formally asked to participate. Leaders must be certain to ensure the full participation of everyone, in recognition of the fact that such expansive contributions would be likely to generate optimal final results.

Conducting Effective Intra-Group Interactions By Charles B. Craver


Copyright © 2015 Charles B. Craver
Copyright ©   2015  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  March 2015