The Formal Dicussion Process, from Group Dynamics

Discussion has a process.

If you haven’t had the course, then let me give a greatly simplified something here that perhaps, for the wise, will be sufficient.

1. Identify the problem by brainstorming. Make a list and from that formulate a succinct statement of the problem.

2. Brainstorm all the solutions to the problem. Make a list. Do not begin the evaluation at this time. All suggestions should be dignified by withholding evaluation until the next step. A good leader can keep the group on the track. And anyone is welcome to take a leadership role. Leaders should arise from the on-going process. Leadership is emergent.

3. Evaluate each solution for advantages and disadvantages. List each advantage and disadvantage. Once the list is made, begin the evaluation.

4. Evaluation should produce the one best solution. which still may not be perfect, but the best on which the group can achieve consensus. CONSENSUS is general agreement. CONSENSUS should be the goal.

5. All along the way, great sensitivity for social-emotional needs should be exercised to keep the group working together. There is a kind of leadership for this one aspect that might be discovered in the course of the discussion. There are process-, or task-leaders, and social-emotional leaders who can assist in the achievement of consensus on the one best solution.

PROBLEM-SOLVING is not accomplished by a “conversation”. Everyone is talking about a conversation these days. The worst offenders are the political candidates. That process described above is a dynamic group process of hard work and a concerted effort which, if failing, can fall into conversation (idle chit-chat with personal goals superseding the group goals). How do you handle the recalcitrants?

The social-emotional leader, if you are lucky to have one, might notice the individual’s inability to cooperate and step in. Can that person be saved and learn how to work in groups? If you have the awareness of all those things, from training and experience — or maybe you are a group genius who may have intuited all that — you’d be surprised at how well you will be perceived in your work, political, or other groups.

Most university communication faculties offer courses in group processes. I would think that anyone training for law, diplomacy, education–well, the list is endless for the uses of training in group processes.



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