Temperament information could be utilized in an organizational setting to form effective groups in order to better accomplish organizational tasks. Potentially, groups can outperform individuals in doing similar work, make better decisions because they generate more information, and are more productive because synergies develop.
However, many factors such as group structure, the actions of the group leader, and diversity influence the performance of a group. Awareness, through temperament information, of the individual tendencies of each group member could assure that the team is working to their fullest potential.
When people interact, they often tend to be distracted and do not listen to one another attentively. They may have other things on their minds, be thinking about how they are going to respond (especially in a confrontational situation), be listening to more than one conversation at the same time, or the environment may be too noisy or in some other way not conducive to an attentive conversation.
Active listening occurs when the attention is on the speaker, and one’s own feelings or judgments are withheld. The listener may then paraphrase the speaker’s words or describe the speaker’s observed emotion (“in other words” or “that pleases you!”).
When people contradict one another, an argument often arises. In such confusion, each of their positions is now deprived of the opportunity to be acknowledged. If, on the other hand, one person understands and acknowledges the other’s position, the two can work toward resolution of the argument.
Active listening is necessary to communicate to the speaker that you are listening; to encourage the speaker to share information, ideas or feelings; to allow yourself to be used as a sounding board; when conflict management is needed; or where a person needs to hear how he/she is coming across.
Active listening is beneficial in avoiding misconceptions, resolving conflict, building trust, and encouraging people to share their feelings. It may help groups reach a compromise. It may also be utilized in informal conversation to build understanding.
Feedback is a way of learning more about ourselves and the effect our behavior has on others. If given skillfully, feedback increases our self-awareness and encourages our personal development.
Feedback should be given timely using clear, direct requests. It is important that your thoughts, feelings, and opinions are expressed with ownership (“when you interrupt me, I lose my concentration” rather than “you make me lose my concentration when you interrupt me”). Descriptions should be factual to avoid exaggeration. Feedback should reference behaviors that can be changed, and should be descriptive rather than evaluative.
When receiving feedback, listen carefully and completely. Check for clarity, and solicit another source of feedback if the statements are unclear. Ask for assistance if you need help in changing your identified behavior, and decide on an action plan.
Recognition of your own temperament, learning to recognize the temperaments of others, and practicing active listening and feedback will certainly prove to have a positive impact on group performance.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M. A. Human Resource Development