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  1. #1
    Senior Member Chaotic Harmony's Avatar
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    Default Forcing Interaction with Coworkers/Students

    For what seems like the millionth time, the people running our meeting yesterday forced people to break away from their cliques. It seems like every meeting or retreat we have anymore they insist on assigning seats or do some stupid game to break up the cliques. I'm incredibly reserved at work and keep to myself, so I hate when they do this. I prefer to stick around the people I know and am comfortable with. At the last staff retreat we had, when they assigned seats, I actually had an anxiety attack because I just wasn't comfortable with the people I had to sit with...not to mention I got stuck next to a woman that drives me crazy on a daily basis at work. (Thanks! I avoid her for a reason guys! That's another story though.) The other thing was, I tend to sit in the back off to the side because it's less distracting for me. When they forced us to move around, I wound up with a woman who would not shut up through the entire meeting and just kept making snarky comments. That's part of the reason I prefer to choose where I sit and who is around me.

    I guess I just don't see the point in making people branch away from the people they are comfortable with. It never changes anything around here. After the meeting or retreat is over everyone flocks back to who they are more comfortable around. I have yet to ever see one of these forced interactions result in any kind of bond or friendship after the meeting/retreat was over. The only thing it does is makes me want to find a reason to be absent or busy when the next meeting rolls around.

    Anybody else hate being forced to interact with your coworkers you don't know well? Or being forced to interact with other students in a class you don't know well?


  2. #2
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    I have mixed feelings about this. I prefer to choose to interact with the people I want to interact with and ignore the rest given the choice. I agree that forced interactions rarely result in bonds and friendships. However, I can see why this may done. In real life, even if you don't particularly like or feel a bond with someone, you still have to work with a large variety of people. At least with forced interactions, you can see where the other people are coming from and get to know them better. You don't have to be friends with everyone you work with.

    Regarding school, I dreaded those group assignments and much preferred to work alone. When we had to work in groups, my muscles would tighten when the teacher had us find our own groups. I was uncomfortable initiating contact and asking people if they wanted to join me. I was often the last person without a group and the teacher would go around the classroom talking another group into taking me in. It was worst in middle school when I was very socially awkward and unpopular. I was actually relieved when the teacher would just assign groups as it took that stress off.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Chaotic Harmony's Avatar
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    I think my resentment came from the retreat where I was sitting in a group that had two people I worked with frequently, that always make me really tense to be around. One is very bitter with this place right now, so she's been kind of a loose canon and unpleasant to be around. So I always get really tense and uneasy around her. The other one is just a pain in the rear because she doesn't listen or follow rules that are in place for a reason. I can get trying to get people to mingle, but I wish they'd find better ways to handle it.

    Sometimes it's not so much that we just stick to the people we are comfortable with, but we are avoiding the people that we are uncomfortable around. I know if I don't have any of my buddies with me I would rather sit next to someone I don't know at all, than someone who I do know and am not comfortable around!


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    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    I don't really have "friends" at work, so I usually end up sitting with random people anyway at retreats. But I do prefer to stick around people that I am more comfortable around, so at events when we are with the other offices in our department, not just ours, I prefer to stick with my office mates. I don't like "mixers."

    When I was in school it was even worse. I can say "ditto" to pretty much everything @SuchIrony said on that front.
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    Senior Member Chaotic Harmony's Avatar
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    You phrased it better than I could @Aquarelle. I don't really have friends at work, aside from my mom, so I prefer to stick with my department or my mom's department (our departments work together a lot).

    When it comes to school stuff... I'm so shy. If you put me in a group and I don't trust the work of the others I'm pretty likely to tell them to sit back and I'll just do all the work. No joke, I'd rather take on all the work on my own than interact with others sometimes! In some groups, I'll just sit back and do my part and let the others work together while I work on my part alone. I just do not like working with people I don't know or trust.


  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuchIrony View Post
    I have mixed feelings about this. I prefer to choose to interact with the people I want to interact with and ignore the rest given the choice. I agree that forced interactions rarely result in bonds and friendships. However, I can see why this may done. In real life, even if you don't particularly like or feel a bond with someone, you still have to work with a large variety of people. At least with forced interactions, you can see where the other people are coming from and get to know them better. You don't have to be friends with everyone you work with.

    Regarding school, I dreaded those group assignments and much preferred to work alone. When we had to work in groups, my muscles would tighten when the teacher had us find our own groups. I was uncomfortable initiating contact and asking people if they wanted to join me. I was often the last person without a group and the teacher would go around the classroom talking another group into taking me in. It was worst in middle school when I was very socially awkward and unpopular. I was actually relieved when the teacher would just assign groups as it took that stress off.
    This is a good explanation of the merits of such an arrangement. Still, the second paragraph describes my experience as well. I always hated group projects, and still do to some extent.

    I make a distinction, though, between being forced into unfamiliar or random groupings to do something productive and important, like a class project, and being grouped that way for a social, team-building, or other short-term activity. In the first case, I need to be able to trust that my groupmates will pull their own weight, stay on task, and be able to work together. In the second case, I don't really care. Yes, being with familiar, comfortable people is more . . . comfortable. I will learn more about people in the mixed/random group, though - not always pleasant lessons, but informative nonetheless. I have plenty of ways to keep it/them from getting to me when I know the encounter is to be short-lived. (The bad part is that, if I find them too aggravating, I might start to toy with them, since they are not my real day-to-day colleagues.)
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    Senior Member Ism's Avatar
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    It's probably something your boss was told would improve productivity in the work environment. That's usually the reason they do these sorts of things, regardless of how much they don't work.

    My approach is to occasionally chuckle, half-smile, and stomach it. I'm pretty sure no one likes these kinds of things unless they happen to end up in a group with people they know.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Chaotic Harmony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ism View Post
    It's probably something your boss was told would improve productivity in the work environment. That's usually the reason they do these sorts of things, regardless of how much they don't work.

    My approach is to occasionally chuckle, half-smile, and stomach it. I'm pretty sure no one likes these kinds of things unless they happen to end up in a group with people they know.
    I guess that's the one advantage of working in IT. My boss and coworkers are all pretty well on the same page. So he doesn't try and force us to interact more with others... He has told me to be nicer to our counter parts at Central Office...but that's another story.

    It always seems to come after there has been some workshop on campus about diversity that the executive directors all get together and decide to do something like this. I sometimes wish we'd have a workshop on the variety of personality types out there... Then maybe they'd get how the rest of us tick. I figure as long as I'm working here and not out on my own I'll have to suck it up and deal with it.


  9. #9
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    Facilitated icebreakers can be a good thing. They help people get--and feel comfortable with--opportunities to get to know one another. Creating those opportunities is great for identifying common interests and personalities that might mesh; so that people can develop partnerships, teams, and friendships on their own terms.

    Forced confinement within a group is very much bad. At that point, it's less 'opportunity,' more 'stab-me-in-the-head chore.' It's grating. It's pointless. It creates resentment.

    If the former is akin to attending a singles mixer on one's own terms, then the latter is akin to being forced to stay in an abusive relationship.

    Gotta love the bosses who do not understand the difference, having received all of their training from a few 'pop-management' books they read on the commute.
    Last edited by garbage; 03-12-2013 at 04:25 PM. Reason: clarity

  10. #10
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I make a distinction, though, between being forced into unfamiliar or random groupings to do something productive and important, like a class project, and being grouped that way for a social, team-building, or other short-term activity. In the first case, I need to be able to trust that my groupmates will pull their own weight, stay on task, and be able to work together. In the second case, I don't really care. Yes, being with familiar, comfortable people is more . . . comfortable. I will learn more about people in the mixed/random group, though - not always pleasant lessons, but informative nonetheless. I have plenty of ways to keep it/them from getting to me when I know the encounter is to be short-lived. (The bad part is that, if I find them too aggravating, I might start to toy with them, since they are not my real day-to-day colleagues.)
    That's interesting, I was actually thinking the opposite. I see more value in learning to work with unfamiliar others on important, productive tasks - though given my past history with group work (as in, me generally ending up doing the majority of the work because I'm a perfectionist), I tend to dislike forced-group interactions where the group is rated. But I don't understand the point of forcing people out of their comfort zones during a brief, casual time period. They way I thought about it, if real connections are going to be forged, they'll be forged because there's a reason to connect, mutual benefit to be obtained for connecting. The same holds true for icebreakers - if it's like the "two truths and a lie" game, ugh. I hate telling a group my personal business and them having to interact with me when we all know that none of us are interested. If it's a discussion about cultural background to learn more about each other, that's actually potentially useful. I just resent forced socialization when the point is forced socialization.

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