Practical Application: Identifying Ineffective Group Communication

Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Collaboration depends on effective communication. But not every team communicates well. What leads to ineffective communication and what can be done about it? These scenarios help you identify the factors.

Ineffective Group Communication

In order to successfully collaborate, groups need to be able to communicate. But not all groups communicate effectively. There are five basic factors that can lead to ineffective communication:

  • lack of focus
  • inequality of group members
  • negativity
  • lack of cohesion
  • poor leadership

For a more in-depth look at these five factors, see the lesson Ineffective Group Communication in Groups. Then, read through the scenarios below to deepen your understanding.


As you read each of the following scenarios, think about the five factors that can lead to ineffective communication. See if you can identify which ones are preventing the group in the scenario from communicating effectively. Finally, think about how you might address the issue if you were the manager.

Scenario 1

Leeza is the manager of a team that is tasked with designing a new walking desk for customers who want to be fit and get things done. She's noticed a problem, though. While Esther wants to talk about the color and material of the desk, Sam wants to talk about the number of drawers and shelves available, while Jordy wants to talk about the treadmill surface.

Leeza notices that the more wrapped up in their individual parts each team member gets, the less gets done. When she points this out, Esther blames Jordy, and Jordy blames Sam for all the delays.

Write a brief email to Leeza. In it, explain what factor(s) are preventing her team from communicating effectively. Then, outline a few things that you think she should do to help her team communicate more effectively.

Scenario 2

Rena just joined the Healthie Smoothie company. She's on a team that is in charge of combining ingredients in new ways to create exciting flavors of healthy smoothies. But whenever anyone provides an idea, one of the team members shoots it down. This team member insists that everyone do what he wants and that only his ideas get passed up the chain.

When Rena talks to her boss about it, her boss says that they need to sort it out among the team members. The boss insists that she only wants to hear from the team when they have finished ideas, and that she doesn't care how they get to those ideas.

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