What is a role in a group

Roles in the group

The term role is easiest to understand when it is viewed in everyday use: - He plays an important role in the group - What a strange role he plays! - I wanted so much to play a different role

A role is a behavior of a person in a certain situation and environment, but it is not his whole behavior. Role is a part of the behavior and is related to the situation in which it is played and has a meaning / function for the whole: One is important for others, funny, insignificant, etc. To clarify the concept of the role, first in a Overview of many behaviors / roles listed and classified according to their importance / function for the group.

Make suggestions, collect, ask, summarize, inform, structure, coordinate, drive, etc.

These roles must be taken on when the task is pending and should be completed in the group. If no one is willing to practice these behaviors, tasks cannot be completed.

Encourage, develop or promote understanding among one another, encourage people to listen, take up and relieve tension, bridge difficult situations, protect someone who has been attacked, listen and respond to someone, take up a thought from someone else, etc.

These roles have to be taken on if the group is to communicate with one another and build relationships. If there is no one willing to practice such behavior, it is impossible to live together in a group.

These roles are so named because they describe behaviors that sometimes disrupt and inhibit the work process or group communication. They therefore do little to help the group develop further.

Examples are: being hostile, attacking others, teasing, rivaling, blocking, constantly refusing to act, constantly playing the clown, usurping the conversation, devaluing others, etc.

Task roles

  • Initiative and activity
  • Information search
  • Opinion polling
  • to give information
  • Express opinions
  • working out
  • Coordinate
  • sum up

Maintenance and duty roles

  • encouragement
  • Keeping boundaries
  • Make rules
  • Expression of group feelings
  • evaluate
  • diagnose
  • Check compliance
  • convey
  • Avoid tension

weak roles

  • aggressive behavior
  • To block
  • Self-confessions
  • rival
  • Looking for sympathy
  • Special arguments
  • Clowning
  • Seek attention
  • Withdraw
  • the leader ("Come on, guys, let's do it ...!")
  • the scapegoat ("It's always my fault ...!")
  • the show-off ("You know what I did the other day ...!")
  • the professor ("This phenomenon can be explained as follows ...!")
  • the daredevil ("Let's see if the ice is already wearing ...!")
  • the wallflower ("Have you noticed me ...?")
  • the star ("I'm great ...!")
  • der Pfiffikus ("Look, it's very easy ...!")
  • the hothead ("I'll turn the collar on ...!")
  • the thoughtful ("Why are you so upset ...?")
  • the contender ("Come here, you coward ...!")
  • the busy one ("I don't have much time ...!")
  • the unlucky one ("Now I feel like it again ...!")
  • the right-wing man ("You have no idea ...!")
  • the workhorse (someone has to do it ...)
  • the impatient ("Can't we get a little faster ...?")
  • the conversationalist ("I can also think of ...!")
  • the compassionate one ("You poor fellow ...!")

From the listing of the three types of roles it becomes clear that every behavior in a situation can be described as a role assumption: I do this or that in the group and it has the following meaning in the whole. In this respect, role is initially simply a descriptive term without evaluation. The evaluation comes in when it comes to seeing what the way the role assumption or role play means for the individual group member and the group. A person can play very different roles in a group, depending on the situation and necessity: on the one hand he structures the course of the conversation, on the other hand he listens intensively, on the other hand he refuses to cooperate because ... etc. The background to the respective behavior is here Perception and assessment of the situation and the decision which behavior seems appropriate here. With this type of role assumption, there is no fixation and determination.

Everyone in the group can basically do what seems appropriate to them at any time, and since decisions are made relatively consciously, these can also be discussed and questioned. From personal experience in groups, a different appearance of role assumption is certainly known, the mechanism of the emergence and fixation of which is understandable from the previous explanations of processes in groups: people tend to commit themselves to certain roles in a group and they repeatedly or often exclusively to play:

  • Carola is always the group clown, everyone is amused by their jokes. Because of her there is always something to laugh about. If she wants to say something serious, the others say: "Don't be so serious!"
  • Max is always the one who mediates when two people have an argument.

That is very pleasant for the others. The two people affected and the other group members are much less concerned about peacefulness. Max is already doing it. Frank is mostly silent. And because he has not contributed anything for so long, she cannot bring herself to say anything about the topic just discussed, even though he would really like to. He is so used to the silence that it is difficult for him to break it.

Because Michael once organized a party, he should now do it again. This task is assigned to him every time. Everyone says: "You can do it so well."

These examples make it clear:

  • I take on / play a role partly because it corresponds to a quirk or ability of mine. A role “suits” me. Example: I can be good fun; I don't dare to speak in a group, etc.
  • The others in the group also have an influence on the role I play. Your expectations, which you tell me or which I feel unconsciously, affect me. I experience your reactions as a reward when they reinforce my behavior. I experience other reactions as rejection and automatically let the behavior in question remain. A certain role behavior of others can also lead me to practice complementary or contrasting behavior: Example: “You can organize parties so well!” (Reinforcement); “Don't be so serious!” (Refusal); "Because you are so silent, I speak!" (Contrast)
  • When or where a role arises cannot be determined. It does not arise, for example, in Carola (see above) or in the other group members. It only ever arises in the interaction of everyone, i.e. between those involved. The question of who is more decisive is like the question of chicken and egg: which of the two was first?

Taking on roles is part of the life of groups. People behave; There are no people without a role. First of all, this is a factual statement. The process of taking on roles can, however, be assessed according to the way in which it takes place and according to the effect it has on those affected and on the group as a whole.

The group leader can ask about this (= appropriate leadership behavior)

  • Does someone only play one role in the group and thereby remains one-sidedly determined?
  • Is someone given a certain role through sanctions or peer pressure?
  • Does someone have a role that even harms them, e.g. by hurting their self-esteem?
  • What effect does the interplay of all roles in the group have on all members, on the relationship with one another and on the group's performance of tasks?

What happens in the subconscious of the person concerned

  • Open eyes
  • Check roles, don't fix them forever
  • Find out the WHY
  • Enable different behavior, e.g. give the weak a task, offer a new role
  • Role play
  • Affection, talks,
  • negative behavior "overlooked" = no reinforcement confirmation
  • "Reinforce" positive behavior = confirmation, recognition

What happens in the consciousness of the person concerned?

  • Take up conflict
  • Talk to person without attacking personally
  • Don't judge, offer help
  • If the person agrees, also talk to the group
  • Establish contact through a third person

No way: Throwing out, slacking off

  • Here educational activity is given up
  • (Only at the end of all possibilities, measures and outside help)

It is certainly a sensible goal that as many group participants as possible are able to take on different roles flexibly depending on the situation. Then the individual can develop and the whole group becomes more colorful and diverse. The group leader can work towards this goal by noticing what is happening in the group (cf. questions above), avoiding role fixation in his / her own behavior, repeatedly encouraging changes in behavior or taking on tasks and possibly also his / her perception Group to ask for a common search for a solution. If so-called "negative" roles are played permanently in a group, this can be a signal that there are relationship problems among the members or that the individual participants are not sufficiently taken into account and signal this through disruptive behavior. (Role behavior can also be brought along by a participant from previous life situations in a group, which may require other types of processing.) If the group leader perceives "negative" roles and suspects relationship problems, they can take this as an opportunity to reflect and to encourage redefinition of group norms. Because roles always have to do with the behavior of the other group participants (even if they primarily stem from previous experiences of the affected member), it is helpful to discuss them together, to exchange satisfaction or dissatisfaction, to consciously approach the relearning of roles and distributions to try again and again. The person has a "mature" personality who can appropriately take on a multitude of roles depending on the situation and on his own decision and who is able to negotiate the distribution of roles with others in order to achieve the greatest possible satisfaction and development of all those involved.