Small Group Communication

Do you know what small group communication is? What a small group is? What are the types of groups? What are the blocks to effective communication in small groups. What effective small group communication is. How can effective communication in groups be attained?

What is a Small Group

    A small group can be defined as more than three people and (depending on the definition) 12 to 15 and as many as 20 people. If made up of 2 or more than 12, 15, or 20 then it is not a group. There are different definitions as to how many make up a small group.

What are the Types of Groups

    The types of small group communication depend on the purpose of the group.

    Task oriented groups are created for business, clubs, teams, organizations, union, charity, and religious groups. Task oriented groups have a purpose of generating ideas, solving problems or promoting a cause.

    This section focuses on task oriented groups. There are other types of small groups.

    The most common group is social. It consists of friends who get together and enjoy each others company. The communication needs are different from the needs of other groups.

    Seminar groups are usually for education.

    Therapy groups are organized to help with the management of mental health issues and challenges. The interaction, positive peer pressure, support and communication make it easier to cope with day to day mental or emotional provocations.

The Task Oriented Group

    The task oriented groups requires unique group communication skills. The purpose of the group, the particular task or job to be done needs to take precedence over any personal agendas. Cooperation and accommodation skills are essential. These skills are not necessary in personal communication or family communication.

    Parliamentary Rules or parliamentary structure are how many task oriented groups are structured. This poses benefits and challenges.

    The benefits allow minority opinions to be heard and the flow continue toward the end purpose.

    The challenge is that the process can stifle free flow of ideas and inhibit realization of the purpose.

Task Oriented Group Dynamics

    The group will be made up of leaders, initiators and responders.

    Initiators will be the promoters and controllers of the group.They will get the conversation going by sharing facts, details, proposals and their knowledge.

    Responders are the supporters and analysts. They will listen, summarize, elaborate, evaluate, criticize and ask questions.


    serve in various capacities.

    • create agendas
    • set meeting times
    • sets policy
    • reports on progress of group
    • manages initiators and responders
    • arbitrates
    • and other roles

Blocks to Effective Small Group Communication

    The obvious block is a failure to communicate. Because small group communication is focused on a job to be done, any failure to be focused on that purpose will block effective communication.

    These blocks to effective small group communication often result from putting individual needs, desires or wants over the importance of the job to be done by the small group.

    Personality patterns that cause the failure are often typical.

  • Aggressors
  • These will often put their needs and wants over the goal of the small group.

  • Defeatists
  • Defeatists do not have faith in the ability of the group to succeed. They will paint themselves as realists. They are often pessimists and unable to think outside the frame of defeat.

  • Class Clown
  • The clown types have a need to entertain. They may want to entertain them selves or others. Either way, their need to clown around is more important than the job to be done.

  • Storytellers
  • Storytellers have their own agenda of sharing. In nursing school, the story tellers had relatives who had virtually every disease we discussed in class. It was amazing how many relatives they had and that the student was even alive to share the story. As to the job to be done, they rarely can tell why the story has any relevance to the purpose of the group.

  • Controller
  • Those controllers who are not assigned as the leaders will want to dominate and run the show more than they want to fulfill the job to be done.

Next we will consider what effective small group communication is. How can effective communication in groups be attained? Home

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