You are here

Group Communication Pitfalls

Group Communication Pitfalls
Overcoming Barriers to an Effective Group Experience

First Edition
  • John O. Burtis - University of Northern Iowa, USA
  • Paul D. Turman - Nebraska State College System, Lincoln, NE, South Dakota Board of Regents, USA

September 2005 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This text treats groups and the work involved in grouping as useful tools humans have developed for responding to pressures or demands faced by group members. As these pressures and demands toward grouping arise, the differences between effective and ineffective groups may be small (as they begin to manifest), but they can become very large when measured by final group outcomes. Thus, it is important to be aware of the signs that a group is not doing well and to know how to help a group begin to do better.

This book assumes an orientation that expects and detects group pitfalls as they arise, providing students with the foundation for overcoming barriers to effective group experiences. By assuming this orientation, this book is designed to 1) provide a map of the group pitfall terrain, and 2) demonstrate how people working well together can use the struggle against such pitfalls to improve their groups.

Unit I: We Co-construct Our Groups by Communicating
1. Why Study Group Communication Pitfalls?
Overview of the Book

Why Do Groups Matter Enough to Make a Study of Them?

Definitions of "Communication", "Group", and "Pitfalls"

Casting a Wide Net to Include All Pitfalls and Breakdown

Group Communication Pitfalls by Commission or by Omission

The Breakdown-Conducive Group Framework

Why Should We Focus Our Study of Groups on Group Communication Pitfalls?

2. How Grouping and Group Direction Help Create Effective Group Experiences
The Universals of Grouping Activity

The Framework for Grouping and Group Direction

Rhetorical Situation and a Purgatory Puddle

Unit II: We Struggle to Co-construct and Frame Our Circumstances and Processes
3. Pitfalls in Task and Supragroup Exigencies
Groups as Systems

Purgatory Puddle Pitfalls

Supragroup Pitfalls

Wrong Task for a Group

How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

4. Personnel Pitfalls
"Wrong Group for the Task" Pitfalls





How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

5. Pitfalls in Grouping Techniques, Tendencies, and Process Prizes
Grouping Techniques

Technique Pitfalls

Grouping Tendencies: Norms and Roles

Norm Pitfalls

Role Pitfalls

Process Prizes

Process Prize Pitfalls

Deliberation Outcome Pitfalls

6. Pitfalls in Confusion, Conformity, Conflict, and Group Consciousness: Grouping Concomitants
Confusion Pitfalls

Conformity Pitfalls

Conflict Pitfalls

Consciousness Pitfalls

How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

7. Pitfalls in Vision and Direction Giving
Vision/Outcome Pitfalls

Savior Complex Pitfalls

Ascension Pitfalls

Transitions Pitfalls

How to Expect, Detect, and Correct These Pitfalls

Unit III: We Co-construct Our Exigencies for Grouping Into Our Group Outcomes
8. (Un)Intended Group Outcomes
Dynamics Involved in Potential Group Outcomes

A Set of Potential Group Outcomes

9. To Group or Not to Group, That Is the Question
General Exigencies Against Grouping

Distrust of Grouping

Distrust of Self as a Grouping Member

Distrust of Any Aspect of This Particular Grouping Effort

Inertia and Specific Exigencies Against Grouping

How Exigencies Against Grouping May Manifest

Expecting, Detecting, and Correcting These Pitfalls: General Orientational Advice

10. Observing Groups Well
Observing Groups

Improving Observational Focus and Quality

Observing the Purgatory Puddle

Observing The Way/Process

Observing the Vision/Outcome and the Savior Complex


"They have done this with a rich, provocative, and creative conceptual vocabulary that will resonate for readers who practice, supervise others' practice, teach about or do research in group life and group work."
Paul H. Ephross, MSW, PhD, Professor, University of Maryland School of Social Work

Paul H. Ephross
University of Mayland School of Social Work
Social Work With Groups

John Orville Burtis

John O. Burtis (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a Professor in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Northern Iowa. He has taught courses in leadership, management, group communication, argumentation, persuasion, and communication theory at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has been a consultant, trainer, and speaker on related subjects in both the private and public sectors. He has been the director of the Concordia Leadership Center and of the West Central Minnesota Leadership Program and the head of the Communication Studies department at the University of Northern Iowa. He has been the Director of... More About Author

Paul D. Turman

Paul D. Turman (PhD, University of Nebraska) is the Vice President for Research & Economic Development for the South Dakota Board of Regents. His scholarly research focuses on the role of communication in the coach-athlete and parent-child relationship within a sport context. Prior to his time with the Board of Regents, he taught courses in communication and sport at the University of Northern Iowa. His scholarly work has been published in journals such as Communication Education, the Journal of Applied Communication Research, the Journal of Family Communication, and Communication Studies. More About Author

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412915359
ISBN: 9781412915342

SAGE Knowledge is the ultimate social sciences digital library for students, researchers, and faculty. Hosting more than 4,400 titles, it includes an expansive range of SAGE eBook and eReference content, including scholarly monographs, reference works, handbooks, series, professional development titles, and more.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.