Read Marta's tips on how to stay calm in tense group situations.
"We’ve all been there. It might have been at university, high school, elementary school or anything in between.
Hardly anyone has tread down the scholarly path without finding themselves in a group assignment at some point. Teammates can start off good, and then suddenly mid-project display an uncanny ability to evoke the fieriest pits of rage that you never even knew you had.
I have undoubtedly had such moments where I’ve snapped, yelled, or stormed out of the room to cool off for a few minutes, but while it sometimes feels like it just has to happen, it’s best for your group - and your sanity - to not let things go that far. Here are some tips to keep the Teammate Wars at bay:
1) Think about your Pet Peeves
From my experience the most important thing is to know what your “buttons” are and have a few strategies handy to keep cool and calm when someone starts pressing them. If people blow up every time there’s a disagreement, your team will become increasingly uncomfortable. This can be very “trial and error”, but be persistent and analyse in retrospect; it might be a classmate doing it now, but in a few years it could be your boss!
2) Communication is Key
Keeping calm does not mean ignoring. To work together you need to communicate, and ignoring your teammate is one of the worst things you can do. They might have horrendous communication skills, but nevertheless calmly consider what they have to say, see if there’s room for compromise, and accept their criticism. I stress this last point because too many times I have seen people take the calm road as a means of condescension, and that only provokes more fights.
3) Recognize the battle calls
Another skill to cultivate is recognizing the warning signs of a fight and knowing when to call for a short break. Are the arguments becoming more personal? Are snide comments being made? Is the volume up? Etc.
4) Learn to be a great Teammate
Disagreements are part of teamwork, but learning how to turn them to the team’s advantage is a strategy for success in its own right. So keep calm, keep those goals in mind and listen to better understand views from both sides.
Marta Svetek is an average 20-something with a heavy dose of rock'n'roll. She hails from Slovenia, and is studying an MA in Creative and Media Industries at University of Warwick in the UK. Follow Marta on twitter @Martholio for random musings and student tips!
*All images from Google Images Search.