I have yet to meet someone who can honestly tell me they enjoy group projects, non-ironically.
Maybe it’s something about not being able to pick your group or just the stress that people feel when they have to work towards a deadline and need to rely on other people along the way.
Either way, group projects are often not fun, and they can be extra not fun if working in a group is not your forte (it’s definitely not mine). But, like it or not, group projects are a reality of university life that you can’t really talk your way out of.
If you’re an introvert like me and don’t get excited when a group project makes an appearance on your syllabus, here are some tips to ease stress, minimize inter-group conflict, and make the process as painless as possible.
Decide on a method of communication early on so there’s no confusion
Facebook, texting, email—choose whatever works for you. You can even make a Slack workspace!
Whatever you want to do, decide on it early, and make sure to be on the ball when it comes to checking for messages from your group members. At the end of the day, you can only control your own actions, so be the responsible one and don’t ignore your team members when they have a question.
Assign tasks to each group member
You don’t want confusion over who’s responsible for what, so take charge early on and assign tasks to the other members (with input and discussion, of course!). You can even decide as a group on a deadline for each task (i.e. if one needs to be done before something else). This can minimize the chance that someone will procrastinate on their part of the work until the bitter end.
Be prepared to share ideas
Introverts are often not the loudest voices in the room, which can make contributing to group projects a challenge. It’s easy to defer to the more outgoing folks in the group, but you DO have things to share.
Introverts often prefer to think things through before speaking, so being prepared ahead of time can help you feel more confident. So, do your research, prepare some points or ideas to share prior to a group meeting, and you’ll probably find the meeting less of a stressful experience.
Use the opportunity for some real-world learning
This is great practice for The Real World—you’re going to have to share ideas in meetings if you want to make a good impression, and preparing for those is key as well.
Also, even if working alone is what you feel you’re best at, humans can often benefit from working in groups, and workplaces often try to capitalize on that. Use this time as practice for future collaborations with coworkers and conference calls!
Go above and beyond
It’s possible that you may come across a few people every now and again who aren’t the most motivated to contribute to the work in a group project. Again, you can only control your own actions, so if you feel people pull back on taking responsibility, step in and take on a larger role if you have the capacity to.
This can help if (like me) you don’t like to rely on other people too much when it comes to your grades, and it’ll allow you to focus more on the actual project rather than worrying about other people.
Make the best of the situation
There are some things in life you just gotta get through and make the best of, and group projects can be like that for some introverts. You never know—you may find yourself in a really great group one day, and your entire perspective on group projects can change. I mean…I haven’t yet, but I believe it’s possible.
I know you can do this. Best of luck.
Header photo credit: Paul H. Joseph / UBC Brand & Marketing