Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Things Work

These are the steps of which to be aware when working within a group: orientation, conflict, emergence and reinforcement, and they are discussed in Communications: Principles for a Lifetime by Beebe, Beebe and Ivy. Practice them from this day forward and the likelihood of your success will be increased.  

1.  Orientation: several questions should come to mind.  "Why does this group exist?"  "Who are these folk with whom I will be working?"  "What is it that we are expected to accomplish?" "Why am I part of this group anyway?"

If any attempt is made to "get things going" without adequate answers to these questions the likelihood of success is reduced.  It is usually good to ask questions even though you think you know what you would do in the situation. Without this step how can you be certain that all in the group are trying to achieve the same goal?

2.  Conflict: because we are all different there will be conflict.  It is the very nature of human contact.  The question to answer is, "How do we resolve our conflict?" Conflict will emerge from a wide range of points.

"Who put you in charge, anyway?"  "Why are we working on this goal now?"  "What makes you think that we can achieve this goal following that plan?" Isn't this plan that was successful in Medford what we need here?"  "Why do we need to reinvent the wheel?"

3.  Emergence: through discussion, sharing data, and negotiation something comes out that appears to be workable. As the context changes each participant may come to view the goal and the strategies in ways that weren't anticipated. In fact, it is probable that there will be changes out of which a solution may emerge.

As the discussion proceeds, terminology becomes refined and words merge into a new context, which allows each participant to better understand what is happening.  New things are being said like: "Now is see what you mean."  "I think when we view our goal from this point of view, more of us can agree."  "It is a reachable goal and with what we have learned here we can reach it fairly soon." Often some key data turns up as a result of multiple participants discussion.  "I think the success of that plan in Medford can be adapted to our situation here."

4.  Reinforcement: as progress toward a goal is made it is a good thing to point out. Those who have been outspoken may be more comfortable putting their contributions into a new context. Here is an important place for compliments that are straight forward an honest can payoff. Having achieved goals is almost always a point to celebrate. If social rewards are passed out, it will be good for both the group and the individual.  Giving credit where credit is due is an excellent way to put it. 

Keep in mind, communication is a process.  People are processes.  They aren't now what they once were and with proper care and compliments they will be increasingly productive.  Our associations one with another is a building process.  Future projects will be more successful and easier to achieve because of the mutual reinforcement we practice.Another way to look at it is: there is no end, only process. 

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