If your instinct in academic situations is to join the team and help forge ahead, whatever the subject may be, than you’ve likely already discovered the vast benefits of being a team player. If, instead, you’re one of those students who feels more comfortable at a table for one, read on to see what you’re missing. Learning to maximize your strengths and polish your weaknesses in group educational endeavors will not only grant you more fulfilling and worthwhile college career, but it will ready you for the working world in ways you never imagined.
Group dynamics are always a challenge, whether you’re a party of two or two thousand. You’re already acquainted with group learning, as most of us grow up attending public or private schools jam packed with other bright-eyed students. But falling prey to the instinct to be a wallflower observing the process is a sure-fire way to rob yourself out of invaluable character building opportunities and additional learning light bulbs as well. What are the detriments to solitary learning, and how do you maximize your unique characteristics in a group full of eclectic individuals? There are a few simple steps to keep in mind, and following these will surely lighten the load.
Be a good listener
As elementary as this sounds, the vast majority of us don’t listen as well or as often as we should. In a college setting, if you’re part of a team with a unified project, most everyone will be brimming with ideas. You’ll show volumes more leadership mojo and gain the respect of all your peers if you stop and listen to their notions; however off the mark you think they may be. Don’t just hear what their questions or brainstorms are, but actively listen. Comment on what they’ve said. Offer you own point of view. But don’t dismiss the ideas until you know they’re truly not relevant to your task at hand.
If the group needs a leader, volunteer
Every now and again, an academically focused team merges and one very obvious leader steps-up. More often, however, the group assembles, looks around nervously, and hopes for the ultra-extrovert to pipe-up and take the reins. If this has never been you, stretch yourself jump to the front and take one the challenge. As the leader, you’ll be forced to consider all sides to your group effort, exercise your own ideas, and be responsible for the end result. It’s very much like a temporary management position, and will not only give you the chance to shine, but can also prove to yourself that you’re indeed capable of leading efforts of all kinds. Without this gung-ho fearless trip at the top, you may never know if you really are meant to be a non-leader, or if the limelight is in fact your destiny.
Keep an open mind
The truly beautiful thing about a group experience is the unpredictable nature. Since so many brains are fused together to accomplish the learning-focused task, it’s impossible for any one individual to know how it will all play out. Everyone’s unique traits and skill sets combine to create the finished product, so keeping an open mind and being flexible about shifting tides and new ideas will create a more stress-free learning opportunity and make you an inspiration to the other team members.
There are many more rules of thumb that can be followed in the academic group dynamic, but above all, remember to avoid ruts. If you always volunteer to lead, learn to lay back and get inspired by others. If you’re the proverbial wallflower, as mentioned above, by all means, jump in and participate as a leader.
In order to maximize your strengths, you have to know what they truly are, and without the opportunity to try different roles and positions, you may never uncover the whole range of talents and traits that you possess. Individuals that branch out and step out of their comfort zone will tell you they receive nothing but benefits from their courageous ambitions make sure you’re not cheating yourself out of an even more fulfilling college experience by playing it safe.