Group norms are used in training and training games. They are rules for behavior for effective group functioning.

Group norms are rules for behaviour that trainers use in trainings and training games to :

  • Set workable norms for participation in their training sessions and training games.
  • Give the participants an experience of norms in action.
  • Gives participants the assurance that these norms can be adhered to.
  • Provide participants success experiences of goals being effectively achieved in a group setting.

Recording Activities:
 1.Tidy the table top
 2.Record in pairs
Listening games:
1.The most influential incident Facilitation games:
1.Open your fist
2.Leading with the tip of your finger

Refer to the Training Games page for some basic rules on facilitation.

Group norms that are crucial for effective participation in a group in a training game are:
  • Listening.
  • Facilitation.
  • Recording effectively.
  • Participating effectively.

Let's begin with the first of the Group norms

Group norm 1: Listening (Look for listening games)

The activities on the Listening page promote 'listening' as explained here.

Listening is 'an awareness of words as well as non-verbal messages that accompany the words'.

The body language that accompanies listening: leaning forward, meeting the eyes of the person who is speaking, interjecting with clarifying phrases.

Listening is not doodling, not looking away, not getting involved in making a phone call, or becoming destracted by interruptions.

Listening is a process of acknowledging the presence of the other person in your range of experience.

Listening is a tool for 'inclusion', 'involvement' and 'respect'.

Listening is the key to maximize human resources in the areas of Creativity, Productivity and Problem solving.

According to Patrick O' Neill, listening is the 'ability' to welcome different points of view and suspend judgement and evaluation of others.

Listening is the 'ability' to put compassion and intimacy to work in a relationship.

There are simple steps to learning this group norm. The steps to achieve this 'ability' to listen according to Patrick O' Neill:

1. Disarm: as in letting down your guard. People tend to think that the process of listening means you 'agree' with the personn youare listening to. This attitude puts up a guard. Listening requires that we bring this guard down.

2. Suspend assumptions: as in suspend the mental activity of second -guessing what the speaker is going to say. Give the speaker an opportunity in your experience to draw on clean page metaphorically speaking.

3. Put feelings first and facts second: as in notice the facial expression, the gestures that accompanyy the words. What do they indicate? Interpret the words in the context of the non-verbal messages.

4. Reflective Listening: As in checking with the speaker whether you heard her right. The message that you reflect back to her should have the both the feeling and facts right.

For instance:

Suppose you hear your associate say:

"They always get the easy jobs and you save the hard ones for me".

You could give the following responses:

  • What evidence do you have for that ?
  • You're forgetting about yesterday when I gave you the easy job.
  • You sound like you feel that I'm picking on you and that I'm unfair about the way I assign work.
  • If you would carefully analyse the work schedule you would see that hard and easy jobs are equally assigned
Can you guess the 'reflective response'? Remember you need to reflect both feeling and facts. You are right it's the third one. Congratulations! You have passed the listening test. Think of some more situations and practice the skill of reflective listening.

Let's look at the next of the Group norms

Group norm 2: Facilitating norms Look for (facilitation activities)

Who is a facilitator? A facilitator helps the smooth execution of any process. In the context of a working group, the facilitator is facilitating the sharing of ideas, problem solving and decision making.

Refer to the Training Games page for some basic norms on facilitation.

During a training session every participant should take turns to become a facilitator and take the opportunity to learn the role of a facilitator.

Why should every participant learn to be a facilitator?

A facilitative environment creates a democratic attitude and human psychology indicates that people freely express themselves. As such they have maximum ownership of their own ideas and this leads to commitment to anydecisions that the group makes.

It is crucial for a group to benefit from the individual expertise that exists in the group. Facilitation produces the synergy from the diversity that exists in the group.

An effective facilitator is :

  • Impartial
  • Open-minded
  • Unbiased
  • A good listener
  • Cordial
  • Honest
  • Trusting
  • Able to see the big picture.

Let's look at the third of the Group norms

Group norm 2: Recording norms (Look for recording activities)

Who is a recorder?

A recorder records views and ideas verbatim as expressed by the members of the group. She records this on a flipchart for everyone to be able to see. Everyone during a training should take turns to be recorder.

Why should everyone learn this role?

This role provides an excellent opportunity to developing listening skills. So people who have been accused of not listening should volunteer to take up this role.

In traditional meetinngs the minutes of the meeting are noted by the secretary in a way that none of the group members can see it. This creates a sense of insecurity among them as they are never sure whether their contributions have been noted faithfully. Consequently, they worry about their opinions being manipulated and so cannot listen to their colleagues. The visible flip chart writing puts these apprehensions to rest and frees the group members to participate fully and effectively.

An effective recorder is:

  • A good listener
  • A good transcriber
  • Impartial
  • Unbiased
  • Open-minded
  • Patient

Let's look at the last of the Group norms

Group norm 4: Participating norms (Look for participation activities)

More often than not groups consist of members with diverse view points, to get as rich and as diverse a representation as possible. Once a participant becomes part of a group the role and responsiility of a group member becomes their primary responsibility.

Participating norms requires her to:

  • Contribute fully to the project on hand
  • Share her knowledge or expertise about the issue in question
  • Participating in all meetings and discussions
  • Understand the responsibility and goals of the group
  • Carry out assignments undertaken in between meetings

For the other catgories of games like Games for kids and training games follow the links.

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