Revisiting the Introductory Challenge

This reflection will be especially interesting in a small group. Members of a group can share their stories, and challenge each other, and—in fact—practice the skills in this unit.

If you are working solo, you can have a conversation, later, with a colleague or partner about the ideas. After all, everyone is interested in what the people they work with are like—and why they are like that. And even what can be done about it!

In almost every job, how we talk and listen are a big deal. The ideas are important and interesting because they help explain what makes teams good and bad. Most of us get to experience both good and bad teams.

The interchange between Lucille and Mrs. Jackson was typical, usual, and ordinary—a small event in a long day. And yet, their brief interchange was relevant to all the principles of effective communication considered in this unit.

You have many such experiences—we all do—again and again during the day. Each one is an opportunity: at least we might start to think of it that way.

Further, all of us have a lot of experience at work to remember and think about. So this “revisiting the challenge” draws on your memories of the teams you’ve been part of already.


Think about the most effective team you’ve been part of and a not-so-effective team you’ve also been part of.  Really—they can be any sorts of teams: at school, at work, at church.

Think about how these two teams worked:

  1. What do you think made the more effective team effective, and what made the less effective team less effective?
  2. How did people in the teams talk with one another? How did interactions differ on the two teams?
  3. How did the principles outlined in this unit play out (for better and for worse) on each of the two teams?

As a reminder, here again is the list of principles developed in this unit:

  • Beware of your assumptions, and be ready to change your mind.
  • Listen more than talk.
  • Listen carefully in order to help the team understand issues.
  • Think before speaking.
  • Prepare well by trying to make objective observations.
  • Effective communication is difficult: confront the difficulties with the team in mind!