Communicating in Academic Groups

If you have had to do a group project in any stage of your academic or professional career, you understand how hard it is to communicate with your colleagues to get assignments done.

Groups randomly placed together are not only tasked with trying to understand the assignment, but they are also tasked with trying to understand how other members of the group accomplish goals so that the product will be something that they are proud to submit. Communication is the most important tool in completing group projects.

Below are types of communicators in group projects:

  1. The CEO: This communicator takes on the role of the leader (voluntary and involuntary). They find themselves creating group chats or conducting conference calls so that everyone in the group is aware of their roles in the project. Your average CEO will sternly ask questions about the assignment but also has other tasks on their to-do list, so they will only contact the group when needed.
  2. The “I think I am the CEO:” This communicator is slightly more aggressive than the CEO. They will send multiple messages to the group chat to make sure that everyone received the message that the CEO sent 30 minutes before. They will ask everyone if they did their parts of the project, but they probably haven’t started their part of the assignment. They can write in all caps in group chats but choose to make snarky remarks to members of the group so that everyone understands that they care about the assignment.
  3. The Peacemaker: This communicator wants everyone to be friends. They enter the group asking about everyone’s weekend plans. They do not like conflict, so they will be quick to de-escalate situations with questions about the group member’s feelings about the assignment and each other. Sometimes, those questions lead to more arguments.
  4. The “I Just Want to Do My Work”: This communicator only contacts the group for questions and updates about the assignment.  They are quick to respond to questions from group members about the assignment, but they will not tell the group their weekend plans. They are not interested in control, friendship, or small talk. They just want to complete the assignment.
  5. The Ghost: This communicator does not communicate with the group until a few days before the assignment is due. The group finds themselves debating whether they should take the Ghost’s name off the project. Just before the group decides to take the Ghost’s name off the project, the Ghost re-enters the group chat... *whispers* Don’t be the Ghost ladies, gentlemen, and nonbinary pals.

Each communicator plays an important role in the progress of the project. They all have one goal, but their secondary goals can distract them from their primary goal. That’s alright as long as they effectively complete the assignment.