Assessment And Application Paper

Group communication focuses on how individuals communicate in a group setting – most often a small group setting of 3 or more people. This is important because it helps provide a better understanding of how groups cooperate, make decisions, and accomplish their goals (“Group Communication”, n.d.). According to Goodboy & Shultz (2012), major areas of research in group communication include group norms, group socialization, group climate, group leadership, group development, and group decision-making; all of which can reveal why or why not certain decisions are made.

Group norms for instance, are the informal rules that groups adopt to regulate group member behavior (Feldman, 1984) and therefore their decisions. “To be a top performer who gets noticed, you must know how to work with others” says Daniel Bortz (2012) a contributor for – a global leader in online employment facilitation.

In other words, in order to succeed, you need to work well in a group – this is not only applicable at work, but also in a classroom on a group project, on a team, etc.

For this reason, understanding the research on group communication – specifically, Functional Theory of Communication in Decision-Making and Problem-Solving – is important to this student. According to Dennis Gouran and Randy Hirokawa, the functional theory of effective group decision making rests on the notion that effective decision-making is positively affected when communicative behaviors help fulfill the requirements for successful task completion. Most immediately, this research will help this student work more productively within a group project. Specifically, the research identifies 4 measures to improve the performance of group decision making.

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This includes: Understanding of task requirement(s) and the functions communication serves to fulfill the task(s); Identifying objectives, necessary resources, and required procedures at the outset; Appreciation for the importance of role reminders; Cultivating respect for procedural champions.

So how does this translate? For this student, it means when I’m assigned a group project, it’s important everyone understands the issue that needs to be resolved, what the solution should look like, how to get to the end goal while considering all the resources available to the group, how each person in the group will contribute to the end goal, “staying in my lane”, and respect for the leader who keeps the group focused and on task. Understanding the communication research involving the dynamics within peer groups is also an important and stimulating topic. According to Merriam-Webster, a peer is “one that is of equal standing with another; one belonging to the same societal group especially based on age, grade, or status” (Merriam Webster Open Dictionary). Therefore, within peer groups, everyone is equal. If this is the case, then how are decisions and policy made? The truth is, everyone is not equal, and some have more privileges than others.

A good example of a peer group dynamic is found within fraternities and sororities. I believe you could make the argument that these organizations, and the smaller groups within the organization, establish rules and policy based on the structuration theory, social comparison theory and also decisional regret theory. The structuration theory assumes that groups are created by rules and structures; considering the resources each member brings. Fraternities and Sororities are governed by rules and structure and governed by its members typically decided by their skills and personalities (resources). Social comparison theory assumes that members of the group wonder how they are doing compared to others within the group. Pledge groups often compare themselves to each other – “was my effort better or worse than my peer?” Under this theory, peers are equal; and in this case, they do not want to let their peers down.

Decisional regret theory suggests that decision-making produces anxiety that is reduced by imaging what might happen with each possible choice. Often pledges question their choice to pledge, but rationalize it by imagining the positive outcome of becoming a brother or sister and the lifelong friends and connections their decision-making will forge. Use Communication Research to Evaluate an Interpersonal Relationship Interpersonal relationships are strong associations between individuals with similar tastes, aspirations and interests (“Theories of Interpersonal,” n.d.). My interpersonal relationship is between me and my father.

I played baseball most of my life. And for most of my baseball career, my father was both my coach on and off the field. I was lucky because my father played college ball and could give me advice most kids did not have access too. We spent hours, days, and years practicing, and for the most part it was an equitable exchange – I got better at a sport I loved, and my father spent time with me enjoying a sport he loved; consistent with social exchange theory. Social exchange theory, developed by George Homans, proposes that social behavior is the result of an exchange process where people will maximize benefits and minimize costs and as the cons begin to outweigh the pros, people will abandon that relationship .

Overtime, I liked baseball less and less. And my dad’s request to practice outside of a formal practice became onerous. He would ask, and I would reluctantly agree or avoid it all together– reminiscent of a demand/withdraw behavior pattern. The more he asked, the more I withdrew. The more I withdrew, the more he would demand. Demand-withdraw pattern occurs when one person in a relationship demands while the other person avoids or withdraws . By my senior year of high school, I knew I did not want to pursue baseball in college. I knew this would break my parent’s hearts. Rather than discuss this with them directly I avoided the conversation all together. At the same time, I began to get into very good shape. Retrospectively, I was “changing the subject” – giving my parents other reasons to think positively about me. This pattern of communication behavior is consistent with conflict avoidance. In conflict avoidance, a person does not deal with the conflict but rather uses other tactics to avoid the issue.

In hindsight, the demand/withdraw behavior pattern was a competent communication strategy because it was effective. However, it did have a negative effect on the quality and stability of our relationship, consisted with the research of Gottman and Levenson, as well as Heavey et al.  This student could argue that conflict avoidance was also a competent strategy because it too was effective. In this case I avoided the argument, but kept the relationship as healthy as possible by overwhelming negative actions with positive ones. Although both behavioral patters are considered competent. I do think if I could go back in time, I should have negotiated an agreement. Negotiation is a process by which two of more parties interact towards a mutual agreement. Specifically I would have planned the negotiation; packaging my goals and my parent’s goals. I would have explained my position and remained flexible enough to consider my parent’s perspective and perhaps offered a tradeoff.

According to Goodboy and Shultz  this would have avoided any coercive are augmentative fallout and reduced the stress in the family in general.Use Communication Research to Evaluate a Professional Situation The professional situation affected by my nonverbal communication and powerless language has to do with a job interview I had this past summer. The job was working at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I had all the qualifications and then some for a job selling athletic equipment – specifically baseball equipment. I was prepared for just about any question related to the equipment. But as the store manager began to ask questions, the questions were more general. It had more to do with customer service then it had to do with the equipment and I became nervous. My eye contact was poor and I realized later that my arms were folded. In addition, my responses were not decisive. They included idioms such as “um” and “ah”. In this case, I believe my nonverbal skills and my powerless language affected my ability to get the job.

Nonverbal behavior includes a person’s observable actions, both conscious and unconscious. According to Goodboy and Shultz, a nonverbal communication skill is a repeatable sequence of skills capable of achieving a goal. Powerless language includes hedges, for instance “sort of” or “kind of” and is much less persuasive or credible according to Lawrence Hosman, a communication studies professor from the University of Iowa. Clearly both patterns of communication behavior were incompetent since these skills – or lack thereof – did not get me to my end goal, the job. Once again, if I could turn back time, I would have improved my eye contact and have had a more open posture. In addition, I would try to answer more decisively – illustrating a powerful language. This combination is an example of competent communication and reveals a competent and professional demeanor.

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