IAF Handbook Covers
The IAF Handbooks

The Handbook for Working with Difficult Groups:

How They Are Difficult, Why They Are Difficult, and What You Can Do About It

Sandor Schuman, Editor

IAF Handbook Covers
The IAF Handbooks

Table of Contents


“Isn’t this the most difficult group you’ve ever worked with?” a group member asked earnestly. As a group facilitator, I have heard this question—in one form or another—many times …

Sandor Schuman

About the Contributors

Introduction — Working with Difficult Groups: A Conceptual Framework

Make sense out of what makes working with groups difficult

Sandor Schuman and John Rohrbaugh

1. Keeping Difficult Situations from Becoming Difficult Groups

Dissenters need support, or the group risks going off track

Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff

2. Building an External Focus: Avoiding the Difficulties on an In-grown Team

The critical importance of an external perspective

Deborah Ancona and David F. Caldwell

3. The Downside of Communication: Complaining Cycles in Group Discussions

Help teams get out of the “complaining loop” and turn to solution-oriented interaction instead

Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock and Simone Kauffeld

4. Facilitating Multicultural Groups

Customize structures and processes to match groups' cultural preferences

Donna Rae Scheffert and Mary Laeger-Hagemeister

5. Interpersonally Hostile Work Groups: Precipitating Factors and Solutions

A group perspective on workplace harassment and bullying is essential to understanding and preventing it

Jana L. Raver and Ingrid C. Chadwick

6. Diversity by Design: Creating Cognitive Conflict to Enhance Group Performance

Ill defined, diversity might undermine its purpose

Michael Cassidy

7. Facilitating Inclusion: Study Circles on Diversity and Student Achievement

Bridging differences in culture and ethnicity can foster academic achievement

Mark A. Clark and John Landesman

8. Overcoming Sources of Irrationality That Complicate Working in Decision-Making Groups

Six factors make working with this group difficult in many different ways

Dennis S. Gouran

9. Working Without Rules: A Team in Need of a Different Picture

Affirmative language encourages new views of a team's past and future

Ann Lukens

10. Interaction Archetypes: Keys to Group Difficulty and Productivity

Identify the repetitive behavioral sequences that reduce a group's ability to produce results

Steven Ober

11. Virtual Teams: Difficult in All Dimensions

Group members working virtually and interdependently face enormous challenges

Thomas A. O’Neill and Theresa J. B. Kline

12. Politics of the Arts: Challenges in Working with Nonprofit Boards

A “confessional tale”—lessons learned while facilitating an arts board in transition

Richard W. Sline and Anna C. Boulton

13. Competitive Group Interactions: Why They Exist and How to Overcome Them

Groups are less cooperative than individuals—learn how you can reduce intergroup conflict

Taya R. Cohen, Brian P. Meier, Verlin B. Hinsz, and Chester A. Insko

14. Active Facilitation: How to Help Groups Break Through “Mutual Stalemate”

Groups may abdicate their responsibilities waiting until another group makes the first move

Celia Kirwan and Wes Siegal

15. Mediating History, Making Peace: Dealing with the “Messy” Stuff in the Conciliation Process

Identity-based conflicts will not achieve long-term solutions through resource-based settlements

Dagmar Kusa, Adam Saltsman, and Philip Gamaghelyan

16. Deep Democracy: Multidimensional Process-Oriented Leadership

Learn to track the shifting roles of group members

Stanford Siver

17. Authentic Relationships and Collective Psychological Capital

How leader behavior can undermine group success

Füsun Bulutlar

18. How Leaders Can Make Diverse Groups Less Difficult: The Role of Attitudes and Perceptions of Diversity

Perceptions that lead to subgrouping can override the positive effects of diversity

Astrid C. Homan and Karen A. Jehn

19. The Hero's Journey: Helping Inflexible Groups—and Inflexible Facilitators—Get Unstuck

Use the Hero's Journey as an analytical and facilitation tool to help groups and facilitators get out of difficulties

Carol Sherriff and Simon Wilson

20. Difficult Groups or Difficult Facilitators? Three Steps Facilitators Can Take to Make Sure They Are Not the Problem

Facilitators can unknowingly contribute to the difficulties their group’s experience

Glyn Thomas

Key Terms

A list and explanation of the key terms and phrases used throughout the book, cross-referenced to the chapters where those terms are used.


Name Index

Subject Index

The Handbook for Working With Difficult Groups:

How They Are Difficult, Why They Are Difficult, and What You Can Do About It

Sandor Schuman, Editor

ISBN: 978-0-470-19038-8

Hardcover 480 pp; 2010

Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated