Single individuals do much to advance the cause of peace, but much of the work - the decisions, advocacy, planning, and organizing - is handled by groups. In groups we pool our knowledge and abilities, give each other feedback, and tackle problems too overwhelming to face alone. Group members give us emotional and social support and can stimulate us to become more creative, insightful, and committed to our goals. When we work with others who share our values and goals, we often come to understand ourselves, and our objectives, more clearly.

Not every group, however, realizes these positive consequences. Often we dread going to "committee meetings," "council sessions," and "discussion groups." They waste valuable time as discussions get bogged down in side issues. Jokes about drawbacks abound; meetings are "cul-de-sacs to which ideas are lured and then strangled," or sessions where "people keep minutes and waste hours." But groups need not be time-wasting interpersonal traffic jams if members remain mindful of four key processes that can make or break groups: leading, communicating, resolving conflict, and solving problems.

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Copyright © 2006 Impact Publishers. This book chapter first appeared in Working for Peace: A Handbook of Practical Psychology and Other Tools.

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