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The Handbook for Working With Difficult Groups

The 2010 book, “The Handbook for Working With Difficult Groups: How They Are Difficult, Why They Are Difficult, and What You Can Do About It,” edited by Sandor Schuman, is written for group facilitators, team leaders, and group members — people who are concerned with how people and groups can work together more effectively.

We’ve all experienced the challenges associated with working with groups, but Working with Difficult Groups turns the idea of “difficult groups” on its head. Rather than view groups as inherently difficult, we look at the factors that make working with groups difficult. Individual chapters focus on challenges such as involving dissenters, building external perspectives, reducing complaining, adapting to cultural differences, incorporating diversity, facilitating inclusion, working virtually, resolving identity-based conflict, transforming unproductive behavior patterns, preventing workplace harassment, and strengthening accountability.

We first provide a framework for thinking systemically about the many and varied ways in which working with a group can be difficult. Building on that framework, the contributors each address three basic issues:

  • How the group is difficult –a description of a real group and the observable phenomena that reflect the group’s difficulty.
  • Why the group is difficult –an exploration of the underlying causes of the difficulty.
  • What you can do about it –what you can do as a group facilitator, leader, or member to help the group.

Learn more at www.difficultgroups.com.  You can also read a sample of the first chapter, “Keeping Difficult Situations from Becoming Difficult Groups,” by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff.

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