Communicating in Small Groups: Principles and Practices

Beebe & Masterson (6th Edition)  © 2000

Chapter Four: Relating to Others in Small Groups

 1. Describe how an individual develops and defines self concept.
 2. Distinguish task, maintenance, and individual roles.
 3. Identify several group norms that often develop in small groups.
 4. Recognize and adjust to cultural differences in group communication.
 5. Explain several effects of status differences on small group communication.
 6. Describe how five power bases affect relationships in small groups.
 7. Identify factors that foster trusting relationships with others.
 8. Apply guidelines for appropriate self-disclosure in small groups.
 9. Describe how relationships develop over time among group members.

“Relationships refer to the feelings, roles, norms, status, and trust that both affect and reflect the quality of relationships between you and others.”

“Relational communication theorists assert that every message has both a content dimension and a relationship dimension.”

Focus of the chapter is to emphasize the six relational elements that affect the quality of the relationships within a group: roles, norms, status differences, cultural differences, power, and trust.

I. Roles
     A. Sets of expectations
     B. Self Concept Development: Gender, Culture, and Role Formation
          1. Psychological gender affects our behavior in groups.
          2. Culture of Origin influences willingness to communicate.
          3. Roles result from:
               a) People’s expectations about their own behavior.
               b) Perceptions others have about individual’s positions in the group.
               c) people’s actual behavior as they interact with others.
     C. Diversity of Roles in Small Groups
          1. People assume roles because of their interests and abilities and because of the needs and 
              expectations of the rest of the group.
          2. Task roles - help accomplish a group’s task.
          3. Maintenance roles - define a group’s social atmosphere.
          4. Individual roles - call attention to individual contributions (counterproductive to overall group effort)
     D. Group Task Roles
          1. Initiator-contributor
          2. Information seeker
          3. Opinion seeker
          4. Information giver
          5. Opinion giver
          6. Elaborator
          7. Coordinator
          8. Orienter
          9. Evaluator-critic
        10. Energizer
        11. Procedural technician
        12. Recorder
    E. Group Building and Maintenance Roles
          1. Encourager
          2. Harmonizer
          3. Compromiser
          4. Gatekeeper and expediter
          5. Standard setter
          6. Group observer
          7. Follower
    F. Individual Roles
          1. Aggressor
          2. Blocker
          3. Recognition Seeker
          4. Self-Confessor
          5. Playboy
          6. Dominator
          7. Help Seeker
          8. Special-interest Pleader
          9. Social LOAFER - SLACKER!

II. Norms
    A. Identifying Group Norms
          1.  Norms:  rules or standards that determine what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in a group.
          2.  Repeated Behavior Patterns
    B. How Norms Develop
          1.  Structuration
          2.  Previous Groups
          3.  Behavior that occurs early in a group's development
    C. Conforming to Group Norms (5 Factors that Affect Conformity to Group Norms)
          1. The individual characteristics of the group members
          2. The clarity of the norm and the certainty of punishment for breaking it
          3. The number of people who have already conformed to the norm
          4. The quality of the interpersonal relationships that have developed in the group
          5. The sense of group identification that members have developed

III. Culture
    A. Individualism and Collectivism
    B. Conversational Style
    C. Time

IV. A New and Growing Culture: Persons with Disabilities

V. Status - refers to an individuals importance.
    A. Privileges Accorded to High Status Group Members
    B. Effects of Status Differences  *KNOW THESE!
    C. Observing Status Differences to Predict Group Dynamics

VI. Power
    A. Power Bases
          1. Legitimate Power
          2. Referent Power
          3. Expert Power
          4. Reward Power
          5. Coercive Power
    B. Effects of Power on Group Process
    C. Power and Gender
    D. Status and Power: A Cultural Footnote

VII. Trust
    A. Developing Trusting Relationships
    B. Self-Disclosure-the deliberate communication of information about yourself to others

VIII. The Development of Group Relationships Over Time (Primary vs. Secondary Tensions)

IX. Putting Principles into Practice
    A. Roles
    B. Norms
    C. Culture
    D. Status
    E. Power
    F. Trust
    G. Self-Disclosure

    H. NORM Exercises