Each and every individual have talents and capabilities that are unique in one way or the other. These talents help an individual or the group he/she is working with to achieve the set objectives and we refer to them as individual strengths. For instance, some individuals are creative, openmindedness, curious, wise, persistent and humorous. Therefore when people come to work together as a group they can easily achieve the set targets if they utilize all the strengths of different individuals. However, when people come to work together as a group, there is a high probability of finding themselves into various problems. As a result, it is important to know how to handle and solve these problems and this will require creativity as you make wise decision and as you select from various alternatives. In this paper I will reflect on individual strengths and problem-solving skills as they apply to the group process and decision making. To achieve this, I will do the assignment in two parts; Part one touch on Individual Strengths and the Group Process and in this I will talk of a group scenario in which I actively participated, the strengths and drawbacks that I brought to this group and how the group benefited or suffered from these two respectively. The second part of the assignment touches on techniques used in solving problem and how group make decision.
Individual Strengths and the Group Process
Describe a group setting or scenario in which you have worked or of which you are currently a part
I was in a group setting that talked about female, and the effect of deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan. This group by the name JRTC composed of women who had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, in this group we had leaders and one of our leaders was Gibson who was a key role player in JRTC for four years and before then she had worked as a supervisor of Iraq workers. Her roles were to do some paperwork as well as coordinate us so that we may get training and some advice that was offered by Rotational Training Units. In this group we shared experiences that we had as a result of being deployed since we realized that most of those who had been deployed were female troops of which 10% of them were singles. We also build solid relationships and cultural bridges such that most of us were happy working in the groups. As we continued sharing, we realized that most of the effects of deployment were leaving children in crisis and some of the people committing suicide or being mentally disturbed.
What are the strengths and skills that you have brought to this group setting?
The strength that I brought to the group was experience in deploying and redeploying since I had this previously with Desert Shield/Desert Storm and experiences I had with adjusting back to life after deployment in a combat zone. I shared with this group some of the main causes of deployment and one of them was war. Therefore this enabled the group to avoid such instances of deployment as I told them the best way to deal with any conflict is to share it out and look for solution instead of fighting as fight would result to more problems (Elgenberg &Wynn, 2010, p.220). During the time I was deployed I told the group that I and my family were supported by the American Aid funds. I told the group that I had some difficulty adjusting to the life especially my family, work and friends. In addition I explained to them how I came to adjust to this new way of life.
How have they benefited the group?
The experience benefited the group in that they got some guidance from someone that had been there. For instance, after sharing the experiences I had while I was deployed, the group members got some insight on what to expect while in the combat zone and how they can survive. In addition, I shared with the group how I came to adjust to new life after deployment. For instance I told the group that one have to give him/herself enough time to adjust and not to bring with her the experiences she may have had in the combat zone. Moreover, there is need to share what you went through ,your fears and disappointment with some supportive group like family, friends as they will enable you overcome all those fears and diaappointment.In addition, ensure that the first few months after deployment you take care of your emotions ,health and your spiritual life. Additionally told them that when you go back to the working place, there is need to find out what have happened while you were away and if there are any policies that have been made. This was very important to the group as with this information they could not take long time adjusting to the new way of life in case they found themselves going through the same. Moreover, my experiences comforted the group in knowing it wouldn’t be easy to go through deployment but it could be done since I had gone through the same and came out successfully.
Are there any drawbacks your strengths and skills have brought to the group?
No, most of the younger females were scared and uncomfortable speaking about what they had seen and felt about actually firing their weapons to kill or in defense. However, after I shared what I also went through I helped them to realize that they were not alone and it was not their will to kill but had to do all that as it was their duty in order to protect their people. As a result, after sharing with them these people felt encouraged to share their experiences as they realized it could also benefit other people.
Describe how they have affected the group
No there were no drawbacks to my strengths and skills. The group of ladies enjoyed my input and personal conflicts I went through with regards to my previous experience with deployment and redeployment. They listened to my personal hardship with the loss of many friends and Desert Storm/Desert Shield and how that loss related to my personal life. All these enabled the group to develop their listening skills and to develop better relationships since I told them that for me to overcome all the fears I went through, I had to have people to support me. As a result, they saw the need of having good relations among people as they can give you moral support.
How have other group members’ strengths and skills affected the group process?
The group members have been able to know that there are many people going through the same emotions they are going through and therefore there is no need to fear sharing what one went through. Additionally, most of the people in the group showed how they can effectively communicate with each other and show compassion to the people they are dealing with. This has led to the need of educating the members on good communication skills. Moreover, we have all been able to understand that we are all different and have gone through various challenges that have affected us differently. With this understanding, we have been able to understand different individuals according to the way they are and on how they do things. For example, one person in the group was very harsh in his words stating that we did our job in Iraq/Afghanistan and there should be no feelings of empathy for those Iraqi who lost their lives. We were able to understand him due to the fact that he had gone through very difficult situations and that is why he talked like that.
What are some skills one can improve on to foster a more effective group environment? How can you improve these skills?
Some of the skills that one can improve include listening skills and leadership skills. One can improve listening skills by using their extra thought speed.That is the speed that one can think with per minute compared to the number of words that people can speak. This is through developing the willingness to listen and to understand the concept. In addition, one can improve his/her listening skills by putting themselves in other people’s shoes and ask themselves if they were the one talking if would like to be listened to and since the answer is yes, they also ought to listen to others (Engleberg &Wynn, 2010, p.196 &204).When it come to leadership skills, one can improve this by interacting effectively with others and contributing to the achievement of the goals of the group. This is by giving his /her opinions and being ready for any disagreement and also by helping the people solve the problems and make wise decisions.
Problem Solving Techniques and Group Decision Making
What problem solving techniques do you know or use regularly?
The techniques that I use regularly in solving the problems include creating a Collaborative Setting, standard agenda and The Single Question Format. In standard agenda, I usually think and reflect on the possible solutions to the problem while in Single Question Format I take the problem to be one question then look for the answer to the question. On the other hand when it come to collaborative setting, I usually share the problem with my colleagues who give their opinion on how to solve the problem before we come to a conclusion.
How do the above techniques influence group decisions?
All the techniques above help any group using them to make wise decision though decision making is delayed. This is due to the fact that all the people’s opinion has to be listened to and then before coming up to a conclusion careful analysis has done. Moreover, all the people have to be involved in coming up with a conclusion and each and every person has to be given a chance to air their own views.
What other problem solving techniques could you use when making group decisions?
Other techniques that can be used include; Brainstorming, The Decreased Options Technique (DOT) and Nominal Group Technique (NGT).In Brainstorming group members come up with many ideas that can help me in solving the problems while in DOT they refine those ideas that so that they can know which ideas to use as solution to the problems. On the other hand, with NGT, people give their own ideas as individuals on what they think could be the solution to the problems then discuss the possible solution to the problem(Engleberg &Wynn,2010,p.252-256).
What can be done to develop or improve the problem solving techniques?
In order to improve the problem solving techniques, there is need to control judgment so that the whole process of problem solving is open and people can give their own views. Moreover, there is need to encourage people to come up with new ways of solving the problems and always ask themselves what could happen if they used other techniques in solving the problem. Additionally, there is need to find the solutions of the problem from other areas that may be hidden in our lives (Engleberg & Wynn, 2010, pp. 258-259).
In the discussion above, it is clear that I worked with a group that talked about females and the effects of deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq. In this group we had our leaders and each and every one of us shared the experiences they had as a result of deploying and what one went through after returning to their families. All these experiences helped us realize that the main cause of deploying is war which comes as a result of conflicts and so it deemed necessary for us to come up with ways on how to solve these conflicts before the war break. Additionally, in order to improve on the group activity we saw it necessary that each and every one of us develop leadership and listening skills. Leadership skills can be developed by developing good relations among the group and actively participating in the group. On the other hand, one can develop listening skills by using their extra thought speed and assuming if they are the one talking if they would like to be listened to. We also realized that as a group there we many instances when problems arose and therefore it was necessary for us to find out the techniques that can be used in solving the problems. Some of these techniques include single question format; Brainstorming, The Decreased Options Technique (DOT) and Nominal Group Technique (NGT).There is need to improve these techniques as they help a group in making wise decision.
Engleberg I. N., & Wynn, D. (2010). Working in groups: Communication principles and Strategies. (5th Ed). New York: Allyn & Bacon Publishers.