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In Mixed Company 11e

Communicating in Small Groups and Teams

Eleventh Edition

J. Dan Rothwell

Publication Date - 29 October 2021

ISBN: 9780197602829

480 pages

In Stock


In Mixed Company combines theory, applications, and current research on small group communication in a conversational and engaging style. It is a comprehensive text and has been the market leading small group communication text for the last several editions. The 11th edition will continue to use abundant humor, engaging case studies, novel illustrations, dramatic and poignant examples, personal narratives and vivid stories, and colorful language to encourage students to keep reading. The 11th edition offers an emphasis on meetings with the new Chapter 3, current treatments of COVID and its profound effects on small group dynamics, and comprehensive treatment of virtual groups, in addition to vastly enhanced visual packaging.

New to this Edition

  • New chapter 3 on meetings, both standard and virtual, which reflects the radically changing environment triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the changing landscape of international business.
  • Chapter 12, on technology and social media in previous editions, has been dismantled and that material has been disseminated to various relevant chapters.
  • Vastly improved visual package of photos, custom cartoons, and graphics
  • Expanded and extensive treatment of culture, diversity, and “truth decay”
  • New case studies have been added


  • Great emphasis placed on readability. Several case studies, vivid examples, and personal experiences are narrative in nature, included to illustrate ideas and concepts and trigger reader interest.
  • The communication competence model continues to guide discussions of key small group concepts and processes.
  • Systems theory remains as a key theoretical component of the text, providing a conceptual framework for analysis and insights.
  • A comprehensive, atypical chapter on roles continues to inform on the dynamic, complex nature of group communication.

About the Author(s)

J. Dan Rothwell: Professor Emeritus and former chair of the Communication Studies Department at Cabrillo College. He has a B.A. in American History from the University of Portland (Oregon), an M.A. in Rhetoric and Public Address, and a Ph.D. in Communication Theory and Social Influence. His M.A. and Ph.D. are both from the University of Oregon. He is the author of four other books: Practically Speaking, In the Company of Others: An Introduction to Communication, Telling It Like It Isn't: Language Misuse and Malpractice, Interpersonal Communication: Influences and Alternatives (with James Costigan), and In Mixed Company: An Introduction to Group Communication.

Table of Contents

    Brief Contents

    1 Communication Competence in Groups
    2 Groups as Systems
    3 Meetings: Standard and Virtual
    4 Group Development
    5 Developing the Group Climate
    6 Roles in Groups
    7 Group Leadership
    8 Developing Effective Teams
    9 Defective Group Decision Making and Problem Solving
    10 Effective Decision Making and Problem Solving
    11 Power in Groups: A Central Dynamic
    12 Conflict Management and Negotiation
    Appendix A: Group Oral Presentations
    Appendix B: Critical Thinking Revisited: Arguments and Fallacies

    Chapter 1: Communication Competence in Groups
    Myths about Communication

    Myth 1: Communication Is a Cure-all
    Myth 2: Communication Can Break Down
    Myth 3: Effective Communication Is Merely Skill Building
    Myth 4: 93% of Meaning Is Communicated Nonverbally
    Myth 5: Effective Communication Is Just Common Sense
    Communication Defined
    Communication as Transactional: Mutually Influential
    Communication as a Process: The Continuous Flow
    Communication as Sharing Meaning: Making Sense
    Verbal Communication: Telling It Like It Isn't
    Nonverbal Communication: Wordless Meaning
    Communication Competence
    Effectiveness: Achieving Goals
    A Matter of Degree: From Deficiency to Proficiency
    We (Not Me) Oriented: Primacy of Groups
    Appropriateness: Following the Rules
    Rule Violations: Consequential Effects
    Rule Changes: Context Specific
    Achieving Communication Competence
    Knowledge: Learning the Rules
    Skills: Showing, Not Just Knowing
    Sensitivity: Receptive Accuracy
    Commitment: A Passion for Excellence
    Ethics: The Right and Wrong of Communication
    Culture and Communication Competence
    Individualism-Collectivism Dimension: The Prime Directive
    Applying the Communication Competence Model: Several Steps
    Self-Assessment: Be Ye Individualist or Collectivist?
    Definition of a Group
    Groups: More than People Standing at a Bus Stop
    Interpersonal Communication and Public Speaking: Ungroups
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 2: Groups as Systems
    Interconnectedness of Parts

    Ripple Effect: A Chain Reaction
    Synergy: One Plus One Equals a Ton
    Negative Synergy: Results Beyond Bad
    Adaptability to a Changing Environment
    Dynamic Equilibrium: Regulating Stability and Change
    Dealing with Difficult Group Members: Disruptive Change
    Self-Assessment: Are You a Difficult Group Member?
    Boundary Control: Communication Methods for Regulating Input
    Physical Barriers: Protecting Group Space
    Psychological Barriers: Member in Name Only
    Linguistic Barriers: Having to Speak the Language
    Rules: Permission Not Granted
    Roles: Staying in Bounds
    Networks: Controlling Information and Interaction Flow
    Open and Closed Systems: Setting Effective Boundaries
    Influence of Size
    Group Size and Complexity
    Quantitative Complexity: Exponentially Complicated
    Complexity and Group Transactions: Size Matters
    An Organization: A Group of Groups
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 3: Meetings: Standard and Virtual
    Standard Meeting Preparation

    Clarify the Purpose: Avoid Aimlessness
    Create an Effective Meeting Agenda: Simple Steps
    Get There First: Expect Problems
    Conducting a Meeting
    Type of Meeting: Formal or Informal
    Begin on Time; End on Time: Punctuality Is a Virtue
    Communicate Ground Rules: Avoid Chaos
    Use the Best Processes: No One-Size-Fits-All
    Stay on Track: Parking Lots, Jellyfish, and Perception Checks
    Concluding the Meeting: Don't End with a Whimper
    After the Meeting: Clean-Up Time
    Participating in Meetings
    Be Prepared: Don't Act Like a Potted Plant
    WAIT: Avoid Stage Hogging
    Be Attentive: Monitor Your Nonverbal Communication
    Recognize Cultural Diversity: Is Silence Golden?
    Increase Participation: Constructive Engagement
    Virtual Meetings
    Types of Virtual Meetings: Audio and Visual
    Pros and Cons: A Mixed Bag
    Facilitating a Virtual Meeting: New Challenges
    Virtual Meeting Participation: A Few Unique Considerations
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 4: Group Development
    Primary Dimensions of Groups

    Task and Social Dimensions: Working and Relating
    Building Cohesiveness: Bringing Us Together
    Encourage Compatible Membership
    Develop Shared Goals
    Accomplish Tasks
    Develop a Positive History of Cooperation
    Increase Proximity
    Nurture Virtual Group Social Relations
    Periodic Phases of Group Development
    Forming: Gathering Members
    Reasons We Join Groups: Motivation
    Member Diversity: The Benefits and Challenges of Difference
    Storming: Feeling the Tension
    Primary Tension: Initial Uneasiness
    Secondary Tension: Later Stress and Strain
    Norming: Regulating the Group
    Types of Norms: Explicit and Implicit
    Degree of Conformity: Strength of Group Pressure
    Why We Conform: Fitting In
    Conditions for Conformity: When We Bow to Group Pressure
    Addressing Nonconformity: When Groups Get Tough
    Performing: Group Output
    Motivation to Perform: Social Loafing and Social Compensation
    Self-Assessment: Social Loafing
    When Groups Outperform Individuals: Three Heads Are Better than One
    When Individuals Outperform Groups: No Group Magic
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 5: Developing the Group Climate
    Positive versus Negative Climates

    Negativity Bias: Short-Circuiting a Positive Climate
    Positive Emphasis: The "Magic Ratio"
    Competition and Cooperation
    Definitions: Conceptual Clarity
    Constructive Competition: Tempering Hypercompetitiveness
    Cooperative Group Climates: Cultivating Positivity
    Communication and Group Climate
    Praise and Recognition: Basic Building Blocks
    Defensive and Supportive Communication: Shaping Climates
    Self-Assessment: Reactions to Defensive and Supportive Communication
    Criticism versus Description
    Control versus Problem Orientation
    Manipulation versus Assertiveness
    Indifference versus Empathy
    Superiority versus Equality
    Certainty versus Provisionalism
    Incivility versus Civility
    Listening: Enhancing Positivity
    Shift Response versus Support Response: Focusing on Me or Thee?
    Competitive Interrupting: Seizing the Floor
    Ambushing: Preparing Rebuttals
    Virtual Group Climate
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 6: Roles in Groups
    Influence of Roles

    Role Status: Playing by Hierarchical Rules
    Role Conflict: Torn Between Two Roles
    Role Reversal: When Students Become Teachers
    Types of Roles
    Task Roles: Focusing on Maximum Productivity
    Maintenance Roles: Focusing on Cohesiveness
    Disruptive Roles: Focusing on Self
    Self-Assessment: Playing by the Roles
    Role Emergence
    Group Endorsement: Accepting a Bid?
    Role Specialization: Settling into One's Primary Role?
    Role Adaptability
    Role Flexibility: Adapting to Context
    Role Fixation: Failure to Adapt
    Newcomers and System Disturbance
    Nature of the Group: The Challenge of Acceptance
    Group Socialization: Mutual Adaptation to Change
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 7: Group Leadership
    Definition of Leadership

    Leadership and Followership: Let's Dance
    Leader and Manager: Different Types of Influence
    Difference #1: Positional versus Interpersonal Influence
    Difference #2: Maintaining versus Changing
    Differences Not Categorically Exclusive: Matter of Emphasis
    Leadership Emergence
    How Not to Become a Leader: Communication Blunders
    General Emergence Pattern: Process of Elimination
    Two Phases of Emergence
    Virtual Group Leader Emergence
    Additional Factors: Implicit Theories of Leadership
    Perspectives on Competent Leadership
    Traits Perspective: The Born Leader View
    Styles Perspective: One Style Doesn't Fit All
    Self-Assessment: What Is Your Leadership Style Preference?
    Situational Perspective: Matching Styles with Circumstances
    Distributive Leadership: Sharing Functions
    Servant Leadership Perspective: Ethical Necessity
    Culture and Leadership: Are There Universal Theories?
    Communication Competence Perspective: The Overarching View
    Virtual Group Leadership
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 8: Developing Effective Teams
    Standard Groups versus Teams

    Distinctions: The Fourmost Four
    Level of Cooperation: The Working Together Imperative
    Diversity of Skills: Looking for Complementarity
    Group Identity: Operating as a Unit
    Time and Resources: Commitment to the Team
    Definition of a Team: A Special Kind of Group
    Team Members
    Team Slayers: Members' Bad Attitudes and Bad Behavior
    Egocentrism: Me-Deep in Omnipotence
    Cynicism: Communicating a Can't-Do Attitude
    Communicating Abuse: Incompetent Behavior Kills Teams
    Team Builders: Choosing and Developing Team Members
    Experience and Problem-Solving Abilities: Core Competencies
    Communication Training: Developing Members' Competence
    Developing Teamwork
    Developing Team Goals: The Four Cs
    Clear Goals: Everyone on the Same Page
    Cooperative Goals: Interdependent Challenges
    Challenging Goals: Denting the Universe
    Commitment to Goals: A Passion to Succeed
    Developing a Team Identity: Unifying Members
    Symbolic Convergence: Communicating Fantasy Themes
    Solidarity Symbols: Unifying Nonverbally
    Team Talk: The Language of We
    Designating Roles: Room for One Quarterback
    Team Empowerment: Enhancing Members' Capabilities
    Definition of Empowerment: Four Dimensions
    Hierarchical Organizations: The Enemy of Team Empowerment
    Self-Managing Work Teams: The IDEO Model
    Impediments to Team Empowerment: No Buy-In
    Establishing Individual Accountability: Providing Feedback
    Competent Team Leadership
    Nurturing Empowerment: A Shared Responsibility
    Requiring a Psychologically Safe Environment: Killing Fear and Ego
    Virtual Teams
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 9: Defective Decision Making and Problem Solving
    Information Overload
    Scope of the Problem: The Information Avalanche

    Consequences: The Downside of Information Overload
    Critical Thinking Impairment: Separating Wheat from Chaff
    Indecisiveness: Conclusion Irresolution
    Inattention: Difficulty Concentrating
    Diminished Creativity: Preoccupation with the Mundane
    Coping with Information Overload: Wrestling the Beast
    Ruthlessly Filter Information: Scan the Spam
    "Eat the Frog": Tackle the Unpleasant Tasks First
    Shut Down Technology: Hitting the Off Switch?
    Become Selective: On a Need-to-Know Basis
    Limit the Search: When Enough Is Enough
    Discern Patterns: Recognizing Irrelevant Information
    Focus: Don't Multitask
    Information Underload
    Mindsets: Critical Thinking Frozen Solid

    Confirmation Bias: One-Sided Information Searches
    The Problem: Poor Decisions and Solutions
    Combating Confirmation Bias: A Plan
    False Dichotomies: Either-Or Thinking
    Collective Inferential Error: Uncritical Thinking
    Prevalence of the Problem: It's a Group Thing
    Sources of Inferential Errors: Distortions and Correlations
    Unrepresentativeness: Distorting the Facts
    Self-Assessment: The Uncritical Inference Test
    Correlation Inferred as Causation: Covariation
    Error Correction: Practicing Critical Thinking
    Group Polarization: Extremely Uncritical Thinking
    Polarization: From Gambling to Guarded
    Why Groups Polarize: Comparison and Persuasion
    Combating Group Polarization: Necessary Steps
    Groupthink: Critical Thinking in Suspended Animation
    Conditions: Excessive Cohesiveness and Concurrence Seeking
    Identification of Groupthink: Main Symptoms
    Overestimation of the Group's Power and Morality: Arrogance
    Closed-Mindedness: Clinging to Assumptions
    Pressures toward Uniformity: Presenting a United Front
    Preventing Groupthink: Promoting Vigilance
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 10: Effective Decision Making and Problem Solving
    Group Discussion Functions and Procedures

    Phases and Functions: General Considerations
    Multiple Sequence Model: Phases of Decision Making
    Functional Perspective: Being Systematic
    The Standard Agenda: Structuring Group Discussion
    Problem Identification: What's the Question?
    Problem Analysis: Causes and Effects
    Solution Criteria: Setting Standards
    Solution Suggestions: Generating Alternatives
    Solution Evaluation and Selection: Deciding by Criteria
    Solution Implementation: Follow-Through
    Decision-Making Rules: Majority, Minority, and Unanimity
    Majority Rule: Tyrannical or Practical
    Minority Rule: Several Types
    Unanimity Rule: Consensus
    Evaluating Information: Countering "Truth Decay"
    Credibility: Is It Believable??
    Currency: Is It Up to Date??
    Relevance: Looking for Logical Connections
    Representativeness: Reflecting the Facts
    Sufficiency: When Enough Really Is Enough
    Creative Problem Solving
    General Overview: The Creative Process
    Creative Techniques: Systematic Procedures
    Idea Generation: Several Techniques
    Framing/Reframing: It's All in the Wording
    Virtual Groups and Decision Making
    Pace of Decision Making: Synchronous and Asynchronous Media
    Virtual Creativity: Finding Your Comfort Zone
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case

    Chapter 11: Power in Groups
    The Nature of Power

    Forms of Power: Dominance, Prevention, and Empowerment
    Communication Indicators of Power
    General Indicators: Defining, Following, and Inhibiting
    Verbal Indicators: Language Choices
    Nonverbal Indicators: Silent Exercise of Power
    Status Cues: Virtual Groups
    Power Resources: The Raw Materials of Influence
    Information: Good and Plenty
    Expertise: Information Plus Know-How
    Legitimate Authority: You Will Obey
    Rewards and Punishments: Pleasure and Pain
    Personal Qualities: A Powerful Persona
    Consequences of Power Imbalances
    Bias Against Women and Ethnic Minorities: Leadership Gap
    Bullying: Verbal and Nonverbal Aggression
    Power Distance: Cultural Variation
    General Description: Horizontal and Vertical Cultures
    Communication Differences: With Whom May You Communicate?
    Balancing Power: Prevention Strategies
    Defiance: Digging in Your Heels
    Resistance: Dragging Your Feet
    Sluggish Effort: How Slow Can You Go?
    Strategic Stupidity: Smart People Acting Dumb
    Loss of Motor Function: Conscious Carelessness
    The Misunderstanding Mirage: Confusion Illusion?
    Selective Amnesia: Fake Forgetfulness
    Tactical Tardiness: Late by Design
    Purposeful Procrastination: Deliberate Delays
    Balancing Power Positively: Enhancing Empowerment
    Developing Assertiveness: Exhibiting Confidence and Skill
    Alliances: Forming Coalitions
    Increasing Personal Power Resources: Benefiting the Group
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies

    Chapter 12: Conflict Management and Negotiation
    Nature of Conflict

    Definition: Incompatible, Interconnected Struggle
    Benefits of Conflict: Dissent Can Be Productive
    Destructive and Constructive Conflict: Differences
    Communication Styles of Conflict Management
    Collaborating: Problem Solving
    Confrontation: Directly Addressing the Problem
    Integration: Seeking Joint Gains
    Smoothing: Calming Troubled Waters
    Accommodating: Yielding
    Compromising: Halving the Loaf
    Avoiding: Withdrawing
    Competing: Power-Forcing
    Comparing Styles: Likelihood of Success
    Situational Factors
    Task Conflict: Routine and Nonroutine
    Relationship Conflict: It's Personal
    Values Conflict: Deeply Felt Struggles
    Culture and Conflict: Communication Differences
    Negotiating Strategies
    Positional Bargaining: Hard and Soft Negotiating
    Principled Negotiation: Interest-Based Bargaining
    The Four Principles: Appropriate Rules
    Remaining Unconditionally Constructive: Sound Judgment?
    The BATNA: Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement
    Anger Management
    Constructive and Destructive Anger: Intensity and Duration
    Managing Your Own Anger: Taking Control
    Managing the Anger of Others: Communication Jujitsu
    Virtual Groups and Conflict
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    TED Talks and YouTube Videos
    Video Case Studies
    Appendix A: Group Oral Presentations
    Appendix B: Critical Thinking Revisited: Arguments and

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