At the office, we’re often expected to work with groups of people. This is generally a good thing! We can benefit from other people’s skills, strengths, and experience. And working with other people can often help us to get the work done more quickly.

But keep in mind that our behavior is affected by the presence of other people. When we’re around a group of people, we sometimes act in ways that we normally wouldn’t. Sometimes (perhaps without even consciously realizing it) we behave in ways that hinder the performance and success of the group.

So here are three things to watch out for when you’re working with a group:

  1. Social Facilitation – Working in the presence of other people can enhance your ability to perform simple tasks (like sorting papers) but can actually hinder your ability to perform complex tasks (like calculus). That’s because being observed makes most people a little anxious. It puts people into a state of heightened arousal. And it’s difficult to do complex tasks when you’re feeling a little anxious. So if you’re working on some sort of unfamiliar, complex, or intricate project, it might be best to do the work on your own.
  2. Social Loafing – If you’re working in a group and you know that your individual performance is not going to be evaluated, you may not work as hard as you normally would. You might be tempted to “loaf.” This is a very common phenomenon! Most people have probably been guilty of this on at least one occasion.
  3. Groupthink – Groupthink occurs when group members are more interested in getting along then they are in coming up with effective solutions to problems. The members of the group don’t disagree with each other because they want to maintain the harmony of the group. This can result in bad decisions and very poor outcomes.