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Task vs. Relationship Building Communication Style

Task Vs. Relationship Building Style Well Studied By Sociologists

This particular communication dimension has to do with how much the communication is intended to solve the problem or task a group faces, or if it's more oriented to smoothing relationships within the group.

This dimension is a good example of the "no particular style is always best", principle, because sociologists have noted that groups NEED both in the group, so people tend to take on different roles within the group.

The particular dimension of communication styles affects how individuals express disagreement and discuss conflicts with each other.

Task Orientation/Communication Style

Communication focuses on the task at hand and getting it done. The other person's feelings are secondary. Group harmony is secondary to task completion.

The extreme task oriented person risks hurting feelings by cutting others off, speaking over them, etc, not because they are intentionally rude, but because s/he sees this as the most  EFFICIENT way of getting the task done.

Relationship Building Orientation/Communication Style

Communication is focused on relationships. Maintaining group harmony is central. The task is secondary. Task completion must not come at the expense of the group or person.

Can There Be A Mix Of Both In The Same Person?

Unlike other communication style dimensions, it's possible this is not a "one or the other" kind of thing. Some dimensions involve a binary choice - the person chooses one over the other and prefers one over the other.

Relationship vs. Task orientations may in fact be what scientists call "orthogonal". That means that one isn't one or the other, but can use both.

This reflects a very practical reality -- that group functioning, and problem solving work best when there is both a task orientation, and a relationship building component.

Poor group relationships end up slowing down task achievement through inordinate amounts of time spent arguing, squabbling, and dealing with hurt feelings.


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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