For any business with more than one person in it (ie, virtually all of them) group communication is often so fraught with pitfalls that it leads to frustration, inefficiency and all sorts of long term issues that end up causing a lot of headaches.  

The problem is that interacting in a group, no matter how big or small, can be complex. Groups introduce unique challenges that aren’t a thing in one-to-one communication. Most people are generally ok at communicating directly with one person – we do it all the time – but might not be that confident when communicating in groups. This is especially noticeable in team leaders or business owners who have great ideas or vision, but struggle to bring it to their team and in considering the best ways to include and engage them. 

People sitting on a bench with paper speech bubbles over their faces.

It’s not really surprising that people default to “telling”, to broadcasting messages, and to not really engaging the group. Bringing people all together, all at once is more time consuming in the short term and also more risky (you don’t know how people will behave). But done well you can connect with your team, gather feedback and ideas and find out what they really think. 

Some of the factors involved:

There are so many factors that play critical roles in the effectiveness of group communication, such as group dynamics, the direction of conversation(s), the ability of people to stay focused and listen actively and even the method of communication.  

Take group dynamics, for example. The dynamics of a group are influenced by, amongst others: the attitudes, personalities and behaviours of the participants. The relationships and roles – both current and historical – can significantly affect how even very simple communication unfolds in a group.  

Added to that our own individual communication styles – introverts v extroverts, assertive v passive, those who take time to think v those who are impulsive and many more mixes besides. These all impact the group’s overall ability to exchange ideas effectively. Sometimes it can get messy and there are those who embrace the chaos and can work through it. And then there are those who feel like they are on a sinking ship.  

When you factor in the actual content of what is being communicated – perhaps something contentious or maybe just something rather dull. People’s reactions to it also affect how the communication in the group unfolds.

It isn’t a surprise that group communication can be tricky. 

If you are someone who is used to controlling or leading the conversation in one-to-one situations, the multiple conversations and ideas which simultaneously flow in a group setting can be a challenge. How do you maintain focus and ensure productive outcomes of these multiple conversations? Of course, the more people involved, the more room there is for members of that group to go off course, take over proceeding or even disengage completely.  

It is easy to forget that there is so much going on when communicating with a group. The simplest, yet least effective option it to tell people what you have to tell them and to not invite response or discussion. The problem with this option is that while it may feel easy to you, it doesn’t exude trust in your team. It doesn’t open up the space for challenge or questions or in fact any potential improvements on what you might be thinking. It can actually make things worse (especially if your messages aren’t as clear as you intended) and leaves everyone feeling very negative.  

There is no one answer to improving group communication. However, to start, simply being aware of the factors surrounding group communication can lead to better results. 

Here are a few of our top suggestions for improving group communication:  

  • Create an inclusive environment where each and every person feels valued and heard. 
  • Demonstrate active listening and respect for the diverse communication styles and needs of the group.  
  • Establish clear roles and even create guidelines for communication in the group.  
  • Be aware of your own limitations and expectations.  
  • Create space and time for longer conversations by not forcing a resolution or final answer immediately.  

These tips will help reduce the risk of disengagement, misunderstandings and miscommunication in your team or wider business. They will allow everyone to achieve whatever your objectives are, with greater harmony and efficiency.  

One of the hardest parts of group communication is the role that you, the group leader or organiser already has within the group. That’s why a professional, external facilitator – like me – can get the group communications ball rolling in the right way. Get in touch to find out how I can help bring clarity and results to your group communications.  

Pin It on Pinterest