Chapter 1: Basics of Group Communication

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Communicating in Groups:
Building Relationships
for Group Effectiveness
Joann Keyton, Ph.D.
University of Kansas
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
1
Chapter 1
The Basics of Group Communication

Both task and relational communication
Each group is unique

We are members of many groups

Objective: to better analyze a group and
your role and interactions in it

• One group is never exactly like another
• Work, community, civic, friendship, and family
• It’s difficult to avoid groups
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
2
What is a group?
Five characteristics central to defining a
group
1. Group size
2. Interdependence of group members
3. Group identity
4. Group goal
5. Group structure
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
3
Group Size

Minimum number of members is 3

Maximum depends on other
characteristics
Size affects how members interact
Size should be appropriate for task or
activity


• Coalition formation
• Hidden communication
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
4
Interdependence
of Members

Outcomes influenced by others’ actions
• Each group member is influenced by what
other group members say and do

Group task is difficult or impossible for
one person to complete
• Superordinate goal
• Requires role interdependence among
members
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
5
Group Identity

Members must know and act as if they
are members of the group
• Identify with other group members
• Identify with the group goal

Group identity fully achieved when
members
• Behave as a group
• Believe they belong to a group
• Like the group
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
6
Group Goal





Agreed-upon task/activity
Clarity about the task/activity
Gives the group direction
Motivates members
Should be cooperative
• Integrates the interests of all members
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
7
Group Structure

Emerges from group rules and norms

Emerges from members’ formal and
informal roles
Structure may change over the life of the
group

• Patterns of behavior others come to expect
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
8
Group Definition

Three or more people who work together
interdependently on an agreed-upon
activity or goal
• Members identify themselves as belonging to
•
the group
Members develop structure
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
9
A Group’s Connection
to Its Context
• Bona fide group perspective
• Permeable and fluid boundaries
• Connectivity
• Embeddedness

Time and space of group interaction
• History or duration of group
• Frequency and duration of tasks and activities
• Group’s use of space
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
10
Interdependence of
Task and Relational Dimensions

Task dimension

Relational dimension
• What the group does
• Social and emotional support among
members

All groups have both dimensions
• Dimensions are interdependent
• Both dimensions must be addressed
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
11
Copyright c 2006
Oxford University Press
12
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