Constructive Group Dynamics: How to go from the S.N.I.P.P.Y. syndrome to a C.L.E.A.R.V.I.E.W.

If asked to look at your work calendar for the week, the odds are pretty good that you have a few if not several meetings already scheduled. Now, if asked how you feel about attending some of those meetings, the odds are even better that you may either roll your eyes, groan or mutter something under your breath. Sound familiar so far? Okay, that was the easy part.

Coming from a background of 20 years in the corporate world, I can readily identify with attending a surplus of meetings. Additionally, I know all too well how employees come to “dread” going to meetings and clearly I fell into that category as well. But now in retrospect, I’ve come to learn a few things, as we often do once we step back and reflect. After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what causes meetings to break down (S.N.I.P.P.Y) syndrome and an alternative (C.L.E.A.R. V.I.E.W.).

See if you can relate to any of the following statements:

1. Look, I’ve invested a lot of time on this idea and

if we can’t move on it, I’ll have wasted my time.                        Self-serving

2. We never get anything done in this meeting, anyway.         Negativity

3. We have to enforce this policy so people know right

from wrong.                                                                                      Insisting

4. Can you believe how domineering she is in these

meetings–who hired her, anyway?                                            Provoking

5. Given our roles in the company, I think it’s

obvious that I should make the final decision.                        Power driven

6. If you would let others speak once in a while it

would be helpful.                                                                           You statement

As human beings, it’s easy for all of us to fall into any of these behaviors from time to time. What’s more problematic however is being unaware of our behavior and the effect we have on others in the workplace. As we know, like the “common cold,” our attitudes can be contagious. The reason for this is something called the interaction cycle. The interaction cycle addresses how we interact with others and this impacts the quality of our relationships.

The key components of the interaction cycle include:

a. Values/Expectations/Mindset: these form our initial impressions.

b. Selective Perception: a filtering function that only lets in what matches our initial impressions.

c. Feelings: a range of negative to positive thoughts triggered by our perceptions.

d. Action: our feelings ultimately influence our behaviors.

e. Reaction: others respond to us by the way we act, so their behavior is in fact the result of what we send out.

What we know then is that behavior breeds behavior. Now it’s starting to make some sense as to why we and others act as we do. But, the more critical issue is figuring out what can be done.

This brings us to C.L.E.A.R. V.I.E.W. which is as follows:

C = Concentrate on the listener

L = Listen with the goal of understanding

E = Eliminate judgmental attitudes

A = Actively listen (paraphrase what you believe someone said)

R = Respect differences

V = Value input offered by others

I = I messages (describing someone’s behavior and its effect on you)

E = Encourage participation from others

W = Work towards agreement (build on what others say and then add your input)

Wouldn’t you rather have a C.L.E.A.R. V.I.E.W. than the S.N.I.P.P.Y. syndrome? Change is a gradual process, however with increased insight and the right tools, we can all make a contribution towards constructive group dynamics. After all, why dread something that we could ultimately look forward to?

By Dale Klein, M.A., Corporate Communication & Speech Specialist, © 2008, Profitable Speech, LLC A Sound Investment®. All rights reserved.