Constructive and Destructive Group Behaviors

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Course Management

Sarah Miller and Janet Batzli mentioned these descriptions of different types of constructive and destructive group behaviors at an evaluation session.  They suggest having an open conversation with students about these behaviors to help students focus on their constructive behaviors and be aware of their destructive behaviors.

Constructive Group Behaviors

  • Cooperating: Is interested in the views and perspectives of the other group members and is willing to adapt for the good of the group.
  • Clarifying: Makes issues clear for the group by listening, summarizing and focusing discussions.
  • Inspiring: Enlivens the group, encourages participation and progress.
  • Harmonizing: Encourages group cohesion and collaboration. For example, uses humor as a relief after a particularly difficult discussion.
  • Risk Taking: Is willing to risk possible personal loss or embarrassment for the group or project success.
  • Process Checking: Questions the group on process issues such as agenda, time frames, discussion topics, decision methods, use of information, etc.

Destructive Group Behaviors

  • Dominating: Takes much of meeting time expressing self views and opinions. Tries to take control by use of power, time, etc.
  • Rushing: Encourages the group to move on before task is complete. Gets "tired" of listening to others and working as a group.
  • Withdrawing: Removes self from discussions or decision making. Refuses to participate.
  • Discounting: Disregards or minimizes group or individual ideas or suggestions. Severe discounting behavior includes insults, which are often in the form of jokes.
  • Digressing: Rambles, tells stories, and takes group away from primary purpose.
  • Blocking: Impedes group progress by obstructing all ideas and suggestions. "That will never work because…"

Adapted from Brunt (1993). Facilitation Skills for Quality Improvement. Quality Enhancement Strategies. 1008 Fish Hatchery Road. Madison WI 53715

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