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Tasks and Relationships

Some people are more focused on tasks and some people are more focused on relationships. In this video Craig explains how both are critical for making good group decisions. He also explains the difference between “task conflicts” and “relationship conflicts,” and how they should be handled differently.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley and I want to talk about tasks and relationships. Some people are more task-oriented, and some people are more relationship-oriented. It has to do with personality type. It also has to do with gender.

In fact this gal Deborah Tannen, in a 1990 book called You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, argues that men are more task-oriented and women are more relationship-oriented. Not a rule of thumb across the board, universally, but I think it is interesting to note, at least in my experience, that to make good group decisions you need both. You need folks who are task-oriented and who are relationship-oriented. If you set about making a decision and you are all about the task and willing to harm and sacrifice relationships to get the job done, you might get that job done but over the long run your group is going to suffer. You need relationships to carry you into the next decision. On the other hand if you make your decision and you are all concerned about the relationships, you might not get the task done or if you get it done it might not be done as well. I have worked with a lot of groups where honestly the people are, like, too nice to each other. They are so concerned with offending each other that their tasks suffer. So, I think that a balance is required.

And it’s also interesting to think that there are two different types of conflicts. There are task conflicts and relationship conflicts. Think of a task conflict as a difference of opinion on how something should be done. A relationship conflict is more of a disagreement about style, a personality type – those are the more difficult ones, actually, to work on. Task conflicts can generally be addressed in a group, with a good facilitator, professional people without relationship or emotional issues can disagree and – in healthy ways – work through conflict to get the task done. If you are in a relationship conflict with somebody, that is bigger than just one meeting. And it should not be attempted to be solved in a meeting or a group setting. Relationship conflicts, emotional conflicts are best solved through individual reflection and discernment and individual action, through one-on-one conversations, through counseling, mediation, getting help from professionals and support networks.

Look, I’m just trying to point out that there are two ways to look at things – through a lens of task focus, and relationship focus, and I’m also here to say that both are important. Just as it takes both a man and a woman to create a baby, it takes both task focus and relationship focus to create good group decisions. Thanks for listening and I hope that you help your group make good decisions.

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