America: Land of the free, home of Groupthink?

Group-think.

You may not know the term very well, but you are probably quite familiar with what it is. Group-think has long been associated with past events like the Nazi regime, the Challenger explosion, as well as the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In each of these instances, people have come forward after the fact and stated that at the time when some major decisions were being made, instead of saying they didn’t agree, they chose to “go along with” ideas or decisions that cost many people their lives. Things that could have possibly been avoided had someone stood up against the “group.”

Have you ever done something because numerous people you trusted suggested it, even if you didn’t do research on your own or really think about the consequences? Did you vote straight Republican or Democrat without examining the candidates voting record or beliefs? Perhaps you really didn’t even want to do something, but you went along with an idea of a group because you felt pressure to conform? That in a nutshell is group-think; conforming to the ideas and decisions of a group because of fear. While we all do these things in day to day life like choosing a restaurant or buying a brand of toothpaste, these instances are not going to cause you many issues. In large settings or when you help contribute to the making of a powerful decision, it can be a dangerous place to be in.

Group-think still happens in major ways today. We will see it in many forms come November. Even now the fear of being judged or treated poorly for simply not voting is a whole new wave of group-think. I have seen people who will vote simply because they are told they aren’t American if they don’t, while not even knowing the candidates’ names on the ballot.

By understanding the dangers of group-think, we begin holding ourselves accountable to our actions, diving into fear, and standing up for something that is right or we believe in, (especially when we are not in the majority.) While we know this is not an easy task, we are seeing people stand up all over the US today and make it known that fear will not stop them. From the Rosa Parks to the #metoo movement, standing up for what is right will always be the what makes America, the home of the BRAVE country it has always stood out to be.

 
-Christina Jones – Business and Communications Student – IUPUC

Do You Hear What I Hear???

 

woman wearing headphones standing beside man

Photo by Nicholas Githiri on Pexels.com

Listening to me and Hearing me are two different things. How well do you listen? According to PR Daily, less than two percent of the country’s population, have had formal education on how to listen. Did that not just blow your mind, because mine is flabbergasted. We communicate everyday with people from around the world, only to realize what we are saying to each other is only being heard, and not comprehended. I have three quick points on how we can enhance our communication skills, by simply improving our listening abilities.

  1. Pay Attention
  2. Open Your Mind
  3. Interact

These tips do not have to be completed in order, but it is much easier to understand the conversation if you do. Let’s break these tips down into a simpler form.

  • Paying attention is the key to any conversation. This allows the sender and receiver the opportunity to feel each other out. It is also needed to retain pertinent information.
  • Open your mind to all ideas whether you feel like they are good or bad. You never know what someone else can bring to the table, not to mention we all fall short of knowing everything, so always be willing to learn something new.
  • Both the sender and the receiver should interact with each other. By doing this the other knows if the message sent is clear. Interaction could be as simple as eye contact or a nod of the head. The point is you are letting the other know you get it!

I have found in relationships with others in my life, communicating effectively is so important. Not understanding what someone is trying to tell you after they have said it over and over and you have heard it over and over is beyond frustrating. That is why during the communicating process, we must openly listen to each other and pay attention to the details in the message so that we can respond to effectively. Considering there are so many cultures that make up our country, some ways of getting a message across will vary. These steps might not work for every situation, but they can assist with the process.

More Like “Oh Brother”…

Have you ever had someone do something wrong, and then when you confront them for it, they get upset? Well, that is exactly what happens in an episode of Big Brother.

Big Brother is a television show where a group of people get put into a house together for a whole summer and they try to win $500,000. The houseguests are not allowed to leave the house or communicate with anyone outside of the house. Each week, the houseguests vote to evict someone out of the house. There is a jury at the end that gets to decide who wins the half a million-dollar prize.

For this blog post, I will be talking about a disagreement from season 19, which is the most recent season. This dispute was between Josh and Mark. They were in the backyard playing pool. There was a bet between the two, that whoever lost had to drink a cup of pickle juice and hot sauce. As the game was getting closer to the end, Josh would make noises whenever Mark was trying to hit the pool balls. Whenever it was Josh’s final turn, he was trying to hit in the eight-ball and scratched the ball, this means that he hit the ball twice. Because Josh hit the ball twice, he should have lost the game and should have had to drink the pickle juice and hot sauce. Josh got all worked up whenever all the other houseguests said that he scratched the eight-ball. So whenever Mark was supposed to drink the pickle juice and hot sauce, he threw it in Josh’s face. Josh got super upset that he did that and Mark said it was because he technically won, and not Josh. Josh then goes inside and gets some ketchup and mayonnaise to throw in Mark’s face. This causes a huge argument to break out between the two of them.

While all of that happens, production does not step in to do anything. There is a fight later on in the season that production does have to come onto the speakers and have them separate.

The communications problems that occurred with this disagreement was that the two guys were both yelling. Neither one of them were trying to sit down and have a conversation about it like adults would.

If there were two people, that worked in the same department as each other, that were yelling and screaming at each other, I would have them separate and take a moment to themselves. I would then have the two workers go meet with the human resource manager. The human resource manager would then need to find a different department for one of them to work in, so that the two weren’t working together anymore. If the two can’t get along, then work won’t be done as fast because they would be arguing the majority of the time.

 

Author: J.C. Ruble

Hot Chicks, Guns and “Bad Words” Sell Merchandise!

By: Cody J. Giordano

Gary Vaynerchuk is a media expert. Vaynerchuk recently said in a Facebook video that he does not want to make a conventional video. He would rather make something people enjoy watching with cues, such as logos and objects or merchandise within those commercials. All forms of advertising have a place, but newspapers and inkblots, alone, will not cut it in our technology-driven society. Advertising styles have changed dramatically.

Black Rifle Coffee Company does an amazing job at selling products without directly advertising them. The veteran-owned and operated company makes funny and outrageous videos on YouTube and Facebook. The videos depict attractive women (hot chicks), guns, extreme sports, nice cars and everything else guys, like me, can’t get enough of. Below are three videos from BRCC.

John Willis, the owner of Special Operations Equipment (SOE) and James Yeager, the “MFCEO” of Tactical Response, have gotten famous by being unapologetic business owners. SOE makes gear like gun belts, chest rigs, rifle slings, etc. Tactical Response is a firearms-fighting school. Both Yeager and Willis speak their mind. When someone doesn’t agree with them, they will fan the flames. This gets the customer fired up. That customer then runs to forums and social media outlets to complain about either businessman. This draws supporters, like myself, to defend Willis and/or Yeager. Willis says that this model works because it is like a traffic jam. Everyone stops to look at the car with a flat tire. This slows down traffic, and more people see the flat tire (his name). The people then flock to his page by the hundreds to buy products. Yeager uses this model to get new students to sign up for classes at Tactical Response. They call this firing customers. By not wasting time on one bad customer, they can help two or three good ones. Both can be seen on YouTube and Facebook doing this very well.

Times have changes, and so have advertising styles. Rather than try to convince you why their product is better or tell you all about their products/services, they give you entertaining content that has subtle hints towards their business.

Water Cooler Worries

What is a water cooler conversation? Dictionary.com states that a water cooler conversation is an “informal conversation among office staff.” I believe that the word office is not needed in this definition because informal conversations take place in retail and factory work the same way that they would in an office setting.

What drew me to this topic was that this was brought up as an issue in a recent review of my company’s policies. We may have misused the definition of the topic, our problem was hallway conversations. Two employees would see each other in the hallway and they would talk about a current conversation and move on, but everyone else on that project would be left out.

This is not the typical issue with water cooler conversation. Most of the places that I looked, water cooler conversations were viewed positively. Talking to other employees allows people to recharge their batteries, build relationships and if used correctly can raise work place morale.  When the conversations are negative about other employees or if major negative news about the company is delivered with this method, the workplace morale can be drastically brought down.  Overall in general I believe that water cooler conversations are good for companies and can be beneficial for employees.

By Zach Walker, Mechanical Engineering Technology- Purdue College of Technology

Communication Breakdown in the Business World

What is communication breakdown? I have researched the definition of communication breakdown, however, I have not found a source that gives an exact definition of the term. This may be because communication breakdown happens all the time, whether it be in our personal life or in our work life. Think about someone saying, “Hey we need to get this done ASAP!” Most people interpret “ASAP” very differently. One person may think “ASAP” means by the end of the day, while someone else may feel “ASAP” means sometime this month. The smallest detail can cause communication to breakdown, which is the failure to get a point across. Communication breakdown happens all the time in the business world, which is what I will be focusing on, and giving you some examples of how communication can breakdown.

One example of communication breakdown is no communication at all. Lets assume there is bicycle factory that manufactures different types and styles of bikes on the same assembly line. One of the large customers decides they would like to order a different style bike than usual. Management decides the company has been doing well in productivity and will be better off not telling the shop floor employees to ensure the productivity stays up. However, a few days later people realize that they weren’t making near as many of the bikes that customer used to order time and time again. At the same time, not realizing how many more of the different styles were being produced that the customer switched to. This is when rumors begin to arise. Not updating employees on certain changes and important information can begin rumors like layoffs, decrease in pay, decrease in hours, or loss of benefits. Once rumors begin, you can expect employee moral to decrease along with productivity. You can avoid rumors by keeping employees up to date on what is happening with the business and not to keep them in the dark about issues that may arise.

Now lets say, for example, you tell your boss that you need the materials, to complete your job, delivered to your station by Friday. However, you forgot to tell him that you needed those materials by 7:00am. You don’t get the materials for the job until 2:00pm. The ending result was you missed the deadline for your job because you failed to communicate a specific detail. If you say you need something tomorrow, you can bet on getting it tomorrow but you can’t bet on what time it will come unless you specify exactly when you need it. Specifying the smallest details can greatly improve communication and give it less chance of breaking down.

Here is another example of communication breakdown. A manager runs a team of employees that tests the product of the company. The manager got orders from the vice president that she wants each employee on the team to test five products a day versus the four that they have always done. The manager realizes the employees will not like that very much, so instead of explaining the matter, he decides to take action and bark the orders at the employees to push them up to five tested products per day. This in return caused a crisis causing all of the employees to quit the job because they had enough of being pushed to hard. The manager could ask for feedback from the employees to see what improvements need to be made to test one more product per day. Barking the orders and trying to rush the employees caused a loss in important feedback that could help the test department.

Communication breakdown happens everyday, especially in business. There are so many ways for communication breakdown to come about but there is plenty of ways to help prevent it. Here are some tips to prevent communication breakdown between yourself and others in the workplace or in your personal life.

· Be specific on detail. Who, what, when, where, why, how
· Don’t rush the information you are trying to tell someone
· Acknowledge they are on the same page all the way through
· Use proper grammar in emails
· Encourage questions and feedback!

Here are a few tips for a business to improve communication and decrease breakdown.

· Be specific
· Don’t keep employees in the dark about important issues
· Constantly update employees to ensure they are on the same page
· Encourage feedback from employees!

This is just a brief explanation of communication breakdown, but hopefully this will help you realize the simplest of things can cause miscommunication. So the next time you tell someone “ASAP” you may want to go ahead and give them a date and time as well.

By: Joey Wilkerson, IUPUC Student

Work Cited
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/4-ways-to-fix-communication-breakdowns.html
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-organization-communication-breakdown-61551.html
http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/examples-organization-communication-breakdown-22630.htm
http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/communication-can-break-down-7074.html

The Rise and Fall of Paula Deen – the power of words then and now.

Who doesn’t love some good ole down home cookin’? To most of us Paula Deen in not an unfamiliar name. We’ve all heard that sweet southern mama in our TV’s sharing her secrets to her delicious food. Just recently the southern bell fell from her grace. One word a long time ago caused this women who was arguably one of the most well know TV chef to lose her empire she worked so long to build.
Being born and raised in the south during a time with segregation, the “N” word was not such a big deal. The power of words back then did not carry the same weight they do today. The “N” word said today by someone with such high notoriety would be ground shaking, 60 years ago, that was not the case.
Slang changes with time just as fads and fashion. In the early to mid-1900’s the words that were considered to be slang are now considered to be offensive terms used to degrade people of different backgrounds. Words have always had a tremendous power. Context and perception dictate what kind of power a word does or does not have.
When it comes to words that are offensive they have changed dramatically over time. These changes happen as peoples societal positions change. In the mid 1900’s where Paula Deen had been brought up African Americans were not considered equal in the eye of society, especially in the south. Referring to someone as an “N” word would be the same as today saying someone was “black”. It may not be politically correct but it was not necessarily offensive.
Today that is not the case. People have realized that all colors, races, religions are equal and we pride ourselves on being a free and equal opportunity nation. Everyone being equal and having these rights has caused a hypersensitivity to language.
There is such a diverse culture today that it is hard to tell what may or may not offend someone of a specific color, nationality, religion, or background. The nation has evolved and there are some definite words that are known to not be acceptable such as the “n” word, but there are many that are in a grey area.
Paula Deen has apologized and said many times that she thinks everyone is equal. This for many is not enough, in today’s society people find words to be extremely powerful. We as a new generation must realize that words can, and many times will come back and haunt you.
So for you Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram addicts remember you may not have a fortune to loose and Paula Deen did, but people are watching, so choose your words wisely!

Conflict in the Workplace

When it comes to conflict, I can honestly say, over the past decade of being a manager I have seen and dealt with a lot of it.  I have seen hundreds, possibly thousands, of different scenarios and have assisted people with working through the conflict to reach a resolution. You could say conflict management is a large part of my job as a general manager.  During a normal work week I spend between 20-30% of my time identifying conflict and defusing it before it escalades into an out of control issue that can leave lasting consequences.

Most people believe conflict is bad within a company and it should be prevented. However, conflict is all around us, we all deal with it daily.  People like conflict; we verify this every time we turn on our televisions to the newest reality show. The longest running television series in America, according to Wikipedia, is Guiding Light at 18,262 episodes.  This is a show centered on conflict in a small group of people’s lives. If you are more of a reader than someone who likes television, when was the last time you read a good novel in which the main character did not face some type of conflict?  The truth is conflict is ingrained into our everyday lives. 

Is conflict always bad for a company? We are going to analyze conflict and what kind of outcomes it has within companies.  We will also cover some ways to work through conflict.

Before we dive deep into this topic lets define conflict. Dictionary.com defines conflict as a verb, “to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash.”   It can also be a noun; a fight or battle, quarrel, controversy.  Now with conflict defined, let’s discuss it.

Those who say conflict is bad for a company are partially correct; conflict can cost companies large sums of money, and their reputations, can negatively affect outcomes and can sometime lead to a company failing. When conflict is ignored and problems begin to arise from said conflict, problems will begin to surface. Some problems with conflict are that they involve personal attacks that can lead to hateful behaviors. Conflict doesn’t help organizations solve problems, it creates problems. Large amounts of bad conflict also create negative morale in companies that can lead to decreased production with a team, lowered performance level and poor attendance. 

There are a great deal of factors that can cause conflict such as:

–          age difference

–          preference

–          morals

–          maturity

–          methods of communication

–          misunderstandings

–          passion level or involvement for the job/task

–          interdependence conflict

–          gender

–          methods to obtain goals

Now that we can see some causes and outcomes that unaddressed conflict can have in the workplace let’s look at it in a different context. Conflict doesn’t always have to get out of control to the point that it becomes strictly emotional and starts tearing teams apart. Conflict can generate positive consequences as well as negative.  If conflict is effectively manage red it can result in:

–          A less stressful work environment

–          Increased morale

–          Increased loyalty to the company or cause

–          Lowered heath care cost

–          Team cohesion

–          Personal and professional growth

–          Increase in communication leading to new ideas that benefit the company

The best way to foster an environment with beneficial conflict is to learn to identify conflict between employees before it gets overly emotional for the employees. All conflict should be addressed as soon as it is noticed.  Your employees should always feel free to communicate ideas without reprimand or personal attack. 

If you have begun working in an environment filled with negative conflict personal mediation may be required of you.  As the mediator you have a very important role in conflict resolution. There are many things you will need to know to become a good mediator. 

–          No one is right or wrong. Both sides will have to give some for a successful resolution.

–          Get to the root cause for the conflict. The true reason for the conflict may not always be on the surface.

–          Set guidelines to establish you as the leader and to ensure there will be mutual respect and vulgar language is not used.

–          The most emotionally explosive time will be at the beginning of discussion. Once both sides have made their initial statement you will then be able to mediate the situation better.

–          Ensure only one person speaks at a time.

–          Be sincere, and listen with empathy.

–          Paraphrase what is said to display your involvement in the mediating and to show you have an understanding of what both parties are saying.

–          Focus on separating the persons from the facts.  Make the conversation about the facts, not the parties involved.

–          Ask open ended questions to encourage involvement.

–          Offer alternatives to the current situation to help correct the problem.

–          Make sure both sides buy into the solution. If one person is talking and the other is silent you need to be able to pick up on the fact that the silent party is not happy with the solution and you need to continue seeking alternatives. Without both sides buying into the action plan you will not have a favorable outcome.

–          Always follow up on the situation to ensure the agreed upon solution is working.

If you are able to perfect these skills it will be very beneficial in maintaining an environment with less negative conflict and more positive interactions. People will be able to see that you care about them and begin caring more for the business. Conflict can be damaging to a company if not properly managed.  When in a work place of motivated people there will always be some level of conflict. I would have to agree with the quote, “Show me a workplace without conflict and I’ll show you a workplace where no one gives a damn.” – Alexander Kjerulf

By Richard Dockins Business/Marketing Major IUPUC

Real World Examples of Groupthink and the Consequences

 

First, what is Groupthink?

Groupthink was discovered as an undesirable by-product of group cohesiveness by a psychologist named Irving Janis. He further defined groupthink as a “mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”

What are the symptoms of Groupthink?

Excessive Optimism                                      Assumptions of Inherent Morality

Suppression of Dissent                                 Desperate Quests for Unanimity

Stereotyping                                                  Rationalizing

  • These symptoms create a decision-making climate where the probability of making a poor decision is very high.

Real World Examples and Their Consequences

Corporate

Swissair’s Collapse: Thought to be so financially stable that people referred to it as the “Flying Bank.” Poor decision-making processes eventually led to its collapse.

Symptoms: The belief that the group is invulnerable and the belief in the morality of the group.

Lack of expertise, similar backgrounds / norms and pressure to conform were also present.

Consequences: Collapse of Swissair

Political

Vietnam: Groupthink is believed to be main reason for the war. Strategic advisors in 3 successive administrations rubber-stamped battle plans laced with false assumptions.

Symptoms: Groupthink prevented contradictory views to the war from being expressed and subsequently evaluated.

Consequences: 58,220 United States servicemen died.

Newly studied areas of groupthink outside of Politics and Business where symptoms were present.

Sports

Major League Umpire Association: In 1999, the Major League Baseball Association staged a mass resignation in a failed attempt to gain a stronger negotiating stance.

Symptoms: The umpires overestimated the power that they had over the baseball league and the strength of their group’s resolve. There was the presence of self-censorship; some umpires who disagreed with the decision to resign failed to voice their dissent.

Consequences: Failed strategy, Major League Baseball accepted their resignations, 22 umpires were out of jobs and eventually replaced.

Groupthink Consequences and Preventing Them

Previous examples show how groupthink can have devastating consequences. In some cases, thousands of lost lives have been associated with it.

How can we prevent groupthink?

According to Irving Janis, there are some things we can do to improve decision quality in cohesive groups but groupthink will always be a threat.

Most Important: Group members must always ask, “Are we allowing ourselves to become victims of groupthink?”

                Fundamental prevention measures:

  1. Avoid the use of groups to rubber-stamp decisions.
  2. Urge each group member to be a critical evaluator.
  3. Bring in outside experts for fresh perspectives.
  4. Assign someone the role of challenging assumptions.
  5. Take time to consider possible consequences of action.

References:

Kreitner, Robert. Management. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2009. Book.

By David Rice, Business (Computer Information Systems) Major-Indiana University Purdue University Columbus

Have a dysfunctional team and don’t know what to do?

“dysfunctional – (of a trait or condition) failing to serve an adjustive purpose

                                                             -http://webster-dictionary.org/definition/dysfunctional

Dysfunctional teams occur everywhere, whether it is at home with a family or in a work force. Not everything runs smoothly or as planned in which makes a team “dysfunctional”. This is not necessarily a bad thing but definitely doesn’t make things easier.  I am going to share my thoughts on how to regroup and get back on track if things fall apart.

Step 1: Take a breath! Things may seem shaky right now but can be fixed with cooperation and determination by everyone on the team.  You need to come up with a common goal. A goal that if not everyone then the majority agrees on. If in a work setting this could be a finished product. If you are unable to agree on a central goal then try again. Compromise may be the key to come up with a single goal that everyone can work towards.

Step2: Once a common goal has been agreed on then as a team you need to come up with a plan or steps that will help you reach the goal. This can be as simple or as detailed as you want it. If you had tried a more detail plan before and it didn’t work then try something more simple that is 1, 2, 3 step process. This may make it easier for everyone to understand what you, as a team, are trying to accomplish.

Step3: Now for the tricky part. As a team decide if you want to do everything together step-by-step or assign parts to the members. This could be difficult if everyone doesn’t pull their share of the work. If this occurs then they may be the reason you got sidetracked in the first place. Make sure everyone is being included in the decision process.  Keep an open mind if other team members are trying to come up with a separate plan. If they do then ask them to share and you may be able to incorporate there plan into the group plan.

Step4: Take another breath. The hard part is over. Now everyone needs to trust in each other that you as a team can achieve your goal. Have group meeting to discuss where you are at in the project. This can help air out any issues that members are struggling with or answer any questions. Hold each other accountable. If one falls behind then everyone can end up behind. Share what you and your team has accomplished so that everyone is included; you never know someone may have a great idea that can take your goal to the next level.

Rabecka Ward

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