Would You Rather Work ALONE?

Reading the title, you may experience an involuntary emotional response that goes something like, “Heck, Yeah!” Something like that. Let’s face it, many I-N-D-I-V-I-D-U-A-L-S feel that they would be more productive and peaceful if they worked without the challenges of other personalities, especially “diverse other”. TEAM Communication can be one of the toughest forms of Human Communication engaged in professionally. I know few individuals that have shared that they really enjoy working in teams, but it is something we all tend to engage in during our daily professional interactions.

An important and increasingly dynamic aspect of Workplace Communication today, is the broad range of diversity required and NEEDED in the global work community. Divergent thinking is the ability to see a problem and/or provide solutions from a variety of perspectives. Only diversity of thought amongst group members can provide this vital attribute to group task completion.

As practitioners of Intercultural Communication and other diversity disciplines, we understand that group communication efforts can often come down to a war between perspectives because we know PERCEPTION IS PERSONAL! Adding the major worldview factors of individualistic viewpoints versus collective viewpoints, and understanding Small Group Communication becomes an intensive lesson in the process of enculturation. Perception is the primary element of all behavioral discourse. This can also be termed residue – the patterns of thinking and resultant behaviors we bring to our communication experiences.

We are ALL residents of our residue!

Regardless of the desire for common group outcomes, the road to getting there is paved with differing perspectives. The more added to the mix, voila, every participant is coming from a different perspective no matter the ideological similarities that may exist. An EFFECTIVE Group Communication experience is a skilled endeavor. The first vital understanding is the possible interruption of personal noise and the complexity each participant’s internal noise! The first two steps of the Communication Staircase Model™ [www.hci-global.com], Intrapersonal and Nonverbal Communication arenas, are vital to understanding the personal interference every participant brings to the group dialogue.

You take You wherever You Go!

Hyper-Individualism is a characteristic of participant in the global western workforce today. These individuals thrive in work environments that allow them to remain as autonomous as possible often-making group communication efforts uncomfortable at best. However, many “hammer” their way or tolerate their way through the process, often with results that are not necessarily “group” meritorious. The United States enjoys the distinction of being the #1 country living and incorporating the values of Individualism. As such, we see and celebrate the individual as the most important unit of society. This value is valued above most others in our culture. It is one of the reasons we are one of the most envied and vilified countries in the world!

The cultural value of Individualism greatly influences group communication processes both positively and negatively. Enculturated on a steady diet of “me” and the value of individual equality, can make people very resistant to making room for other people’s reality (divergent thinking). How much noise do you tend to experience when trying to listen to the input/perception of three (3) or more people? Small Group Communication as a strategy can greatly enhance your ability to LEAD and SUPPORT your group efforts. However, it requires a divestment from the individual consciousness to a more collective/team consciousness – as a leader and team member.

Let me leave you with a “strategic thought” you want to understand and value!


def. Contributing your individual best for the collective good. HCI, LLC
Co-opetition is a term coined by Raymond John “Ray” Noorda, past Novell CEO, to interlock the best of competition and collaboration. The Human Communication Institute, LLC expanded on co-opetition as a tool of Group Communication to describe the powerful combining of individualism and collectivism to create divergent thinking groups – everyone contributing their individual best for the collective good. We do not wish to rid our institutions from the competitive spirit that inspires individuals to strive for their best, but we also need not discourage the dynamic energy and genius of divergent thinking. Collaboration is the essence of team problem solving no matter what type of team.

Innovation, best solutions, global viewpoint, sustainability for all affected members, and high morale are the byproducts of Co-opetition! Therefore, when we examine the areas of perception, noise, and individualism, it is essential that we learn to consistently self-monitor our contributions to these factors and constantly invigorate the need to engage in behaviors that embody co-opetition.

Our diverse professional, social, and personal relationships will vastly improve and produce when we learn and incorporate Group Communication tools that honor diversity. The Art and Science of Communication: Tools for Effective Communication in the Workplace, John Wiley Publishers, elaborates on this vital group communication tool for global teams and organizations.

P.S. Perkins, Founder and CCO, Human Communication Institute, LLC , www.hci-global.com

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