An extraordinary amount of work and many types of decisions are handled by groups of people, for in group meetings we can pool our knowledge and abilities, give each other feedback about our ideas, and tackle problems that would overcome us if we faced them alone. Group members not only give us emotional and social support when meeting together, but they can stimulate us to become more creative, more insightful, and more committed to our goals.

Not every group, however, realizes all these positive consequences. Often we dread going to "committee meetings," "council sessions," and "discussion groups" because they take up too much valuable time as discussions get bogged down in side Issues. Jokes about the drawbacks of group meetings abound; meetings are characterized as '"cul-de-sacs to which ideas are lured and then strangled,'' or sessions where ''men and women keep minutes and waste hours." Certainly there can be negative as well as positive aspects to group meetings; my hope Is that this chapter can help you draw on the advantages and avoid as many of the disadvantages as possible.

During the course of any group meeting a whole host of fascinating processes unfolds. I want to focus here on four of the most critical: readership, communication, conflict, and problem solving.

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Copyright © 1985 Impact Publishers. This book chapter first appeared in Working for Peace: A Handbook of Practical Psychology and Other Tools.

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