As you will see, notions of positive and negative attitudes and behaviors will often depend on the context when discussing groups.
EXAMPLEIf someone in your group always makes everyone laugh, that can be a distinct asset when the news is less than positive. At times when you have to get work done, however, the "class clown" may become a distraction.
Still, there are several roles that generally take on either a positive or negative context, as highlighted in the table below.
|Initiator-Coordinator||Suggests new ideas or new ways of looking at the problem|
|Elaborator||Builds on ideas and provides examples|
|Coordinator||Brings ideas, information, and suggestions together|
|Evaluator-Critic||Evaluates ideas and provides constructive criticism|
|Recorder||Records ideas, examples, suggestions, and critiques|
|Dominator||Dominates discussion, not allowing others to take their turn|
|Recognition-Seeker||Relates discussion to their accomplishments; seeks attention|
|Special-Interest Pleader||Relates discussion to a special interest or personal agenda|
|Blocker||Obstructs attempts at consensus consistently|
|Joker/Clown||Seeks attention through humor and distracts group members|
Note that not all of these roles will be present in every group, and some members may demonstrate several of these traits throughout the life of a group.
Self and Social Awareness: Skill Reflect
Now that we’ve examined a classical view of positive and negative group member roles, let’s return to that initial point we raised: While some personality traits and behaviors may negatively influence groups, some are positive or negative depending on the context.
Just as the class clown can have a positive effect in lifting spirits or a negative effect in distracting members, a dominator may be exactly what is needed for quick action. An emergency physician doesn’t have time to ask all the group members in the emergency unit how they feel about a course of action; instead, a self-directed approach based on training and experience may be necessary.
In contrast, the pastor of a church may have ample opportunity to ask members of the congregation their opinions about a change in the format of Sunday services; in this situation, the role of coordinator or elaborator is more appropriate than that of dominator.
Remember that a group is formed because it has a purpose or goal, and normally the members together are capable of more than any one individual member could be on their own, so it would be inefficient to hinder that progress. But a blocker, who cuts off collaboration, does just that.
EXAMPLEIf a group member interrupts another and presents a viewpoint or information that suggests a different course of action, the point may be well taken and serve the collaborative process. But if that same group member repeatedly engages in blocking behavior, then the behavior becomes a problem.
A skilled business communicator will learn to recognize the difference, even when positive and negative aren’t completely clear.
Source: This content has been adapted from Lumen Learning's "Group Life Cycles and Member Roles" tutorial.