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Group Dynamics: Why Team Members Are Like Dogs And Cats

Some team members do whatever they can to help. Other team members wonder “what’s in it for them.”

In this video, Michael Grinder, the pioneer of nonverbal communication, discusses how to get your “dog” and “cat” team members on the same page, forming a healthy, functional group.

Read the modified transcript to “Group Dynamics: Why Team Members Are Like Dogs and Cats below.

Hi, Michael Grinder here, talking about group dynamics.

We keep using this, the triangle. It’s so important to understand; this is not one-on-one communication. A group is not made up of individuals — yes, it is, but there’s also a culture of a group that is formed. 

Top of the triangle, person in charge, one corner, individuals, other corner, group dynamics. 

Today, we want to look at two different subgroups that may be in your settings when you have meetings, committees. We’re going to transfer from home to office our understanding of household pets, dogs, and cats. 

Come on, think about it. You call a dog, it will come. My dog finally passed away a couple of years ago, it may take him a week to get here, but he’s still coming. The intention is, I want to please. So think of all the people in a meeting that are your dogs, very supportive, cooperative, they share. Brene Brown is their favorite person because vulnerability is the norm that they want. 

But you also have over here, the cats. What are cats like? Well, when you call a cat, it has an answering machine. It may get to you if it seems worthwhile. But if you don’t sound like, if you don’t sound like the can opener in the kitchen, they may not come. In other words, the cat says, “What have you done for me lately?” whereas the dog over here is saying, “How can I help our latest, whatever we’re trying to do?” 

Now, what is the role of dog and cat in the meeting? Here’s what you’re gonna find. 

We first have to make a definition of what is functional. We’re going to suggest that functionality has three separate things:

We have agreed-to goals, agreed-to methods, and we’re doing them. 

Now, what you’re gonna find is, cats very much like goals, they love it. Dogs very much like methods, of we’re going to be kind, considerate to each other, high cooperation, collaboration. Cats are different. They’re bottom line. They love the goals. 

So here’s your group that wants the goals, here’s your group that wants the methodology. Your job is to be a veterinarian. You gotta satisfy both. 

They will not get along unless you know how to out-cat the cats, and be kind to the dogs. 

So even when they walk in the door to the meeting, sometimes the protocol is for you to greet them. So if you would, feel free to make eye contact with all you do. “How are you? How was the weekend? How’s your family?” Perfectly okay. With a cat, that’s insulting. You’re wasting their time. So please, know how to greet them differently. 

Here’s what you’re gonna find. The dogs, when they’re at the meeting will go like this. Anyone talking, they’ll tend to lean towards him, they’ll nod their head, they’ll make encouraging sounds, “mm ah, mm ah.” And big thing: they keep eye contact the whole time. 

What about the cats? Cats are a committee of one. The idea of consensus doesn’t seem to faze them. So they wanna know, what is in this agenda that pertains to me? 

Now the question is, your job is to make sure that you satisfy what our goals are and what our methods are. And by doing that you’re gonna end up with a more functional team. 

If you really want to know, not your own group, but you want to know another group, like you’re a consultant, you’re thinking of filling out an application form or already have a group, and you want to know what their culture is like, go to a decision-making meeting

That’s going to be a topic for another clip that we’ll do, but the decision-making process, whoa, you’ll see dogs’ and cats’ functionality. Can they disagree and respect? Can they get away from just, “Let’s gather more information and actually make a decision?” 

Use your triangle to figure out, do we have a group that is functional or dysfunctional? Are we meeting the three objectives of agreed-to goals, agreed-to methods, and we’re actually doing them. 

Make sure that you know that the cats are going to love the goals, but make sure there’s agreement on it. You know that the dogs are going to love the idea of the methodology. 

Make groups functional. 

So when you recognize dysfunction, do something about it. 

Make sure you know your job is to take care of the other two corners and to get them to be together in terms of cooperation. 

Michael Grinder here. Come on, make your groups functional.

More videos in the group dynamics series

Boost Group Foundation + Dynamics to The Next Level

6 Ways to Tell If Your Group is Formed Or Unformed

5 Ways to Identify A Dysfunctional Team

Group Formation: How to Form Groups The E-A-S-Y way

Thanks for reading! For more information about functional groups and dogs and cats, sign up for our monthly nonverbal communication tips newsletter.

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