While studying abroad in Spain, I’ve come to understand how important it is to work effectively in small groups. I have been thrown into a foreign country with fourteen other students from Temple, who I didn’t know before. From coordinating plans to practicing a new language, working as a group has become a necessity.
While abroad, I read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, a book written in the last years of his life. In one section, titled “Enabling the Dreams of Others,” Dr. Pausch discusses a few key points on how to effectively work within small groups:
1. Meet people properly: Pausch explains that a solid introduction with eye contact is important because it lays a good foundation for the relationship in the future.
2. Find things you have in common: By doing this, it’s much easier to address differences that may be discovered.
3. Try for optimal meeting conditions: People will function better if they aren’t tired, hungry, or standing in the rain.
4. Check egos at the door: Ideas should be written down and identified by a description, not the person who thought of the idea. Additionally, it is a level playing field, with opportunities for everyone to succeed.
5. Praise each other: Even the worst ideas have a silver lining! This also helps keep everyone’s morale up.
6. Phrase alternatives as questions: You should suggest doing plan A, instead of plan B. It’s never a good idea to tell someone that you’re changing the plan to your own.
Pausch’s tips are more practical than others I’ve heard before. They have become very helpful while working in my group in Spain. For example, when a decision needs to be made about which direction to walk, removing ourselves from the rain calmed everyone down and allowed for more rational thinking, like #3 suggests. While these tips seem simple, they can change group dynamics if applied correctly.
The incredible experiences I’ve had in Spain are only because of our group working effectively to achieve a common goal, with patience and respect. I want to take this lesson back to Temple with me, so that each group experience from now on is equally as positive. I highly recommend The Last Lecture and following the tips above for a successful outcome.
This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Alex Crispino.