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Group Dynamics - What to Do When Groups Change

You know how it is when you've gotten used to a certain group dynamic? It's a general feeling you get
Group Dynamics - What to Do When Groups Change
You know how it is when you’ve gotten used to a certain group dynamic?
It’s a general feeling you get.
Everything is settled and feels right.
But then something happens when a new person enters the group.
Inevitably, the dynamic is thrown off.
And the group will be forced to adjust.
If the group members don’t all adjust, the dynamic can be damaged–and stay that way.
So what do you do about this common occurrence?

This photo isn't staged at all.
This photo isn't staged at all.
Groups: Forming, Storming and Norming
What’s a group? Is it five people? Four? More important, I think, than any particular number is the shared agreement a group has. All groups have an agreement, whether you acknowledge it or not.
A work group has a collective mission to get certain work done. A friend group has a collective mission, implicit or explicit, to share certain interests and conversations.
Groups bond together for one reason or another. The exact reason isn’t important. What is important is what happens when the regular group dynamic, the good vibes that the group has, is offset by a change to the structure of the group itself.
This can look a lot of different ways. Maybe a group member leaves. Maybe a new one joins. Or maybe the group splits in half. Whatever it is, the group dynamic will be forced to change. With different personalities, the group has to change. It’s only natural.
This is all well and good, but what does that mean for you? What do you do when a group you are a member of changes its structure, its very foundation?
What to Do When Your Group Changes
When your group changes shape, it’s only natural to feel a bit off kilter. Groups are central to our lives. We have our family groups, our work groups, and our friend groups. We may even have acquaintance groups or groups that we keep secret from most of the people in our lives.
And because groups are so central, it can hurt when they change. Acknowledge this. Take it all in. Feeling the change is the first step to overcoming the change.
Also realize that just because a group changes, it doesn’t mean that the change is for the worse. This is a natural human reaction, to think that change is automatically bad. We are naturally suspicious of change.
It probably has something to do with how we evolved. When there was a change on the horizon, our ancestors had to be on guard to see if the change was a dangerous one or a friendly one. Change isn’t automatically bad, although our brains skew towards that.
Once you’ve acknowledged how you feel, it’s time to see what your role in the group is. We all play roles, whether we want to admit it or not. Your role may be leader in one group and follower in another. It’s neither good nor bad. Our roles just are what they are.
Does your role need to change to meet the needs of the altered group? Do you need to step back? Or step up? Only you can determine that. Use the clues of the new group to determine what to do. How are others responding? What is most needed at this juncture?
Ask yourself as many questions as you can. Questions are one of the most effective ways that we learn about the world. You don’t even necessarily need to have an answer to benefit from asking a question. Just try it.
Groups are Here to Stay
Unless you’re a hermit, groups are going to have an ongoing presence in your life. So it’s best to learn how to navigate them.
Start with yourself and your own emotions. Then, extend outward.
Your emotional gauge is a powerful tool. Constantly assess how your feelings compare to the others in the group. And don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Good communication is at the heart of any healthy group.
Master the skill of navigating group dynamics, and you will be ahead of the game and top of the class.
Isn’t that where you want to be?

Thanks for reading. I hope you learned something new here. Learning about group dynamics is a crucial life skill.

Until we meet again, I am,
Jordan
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