Organization and Personal Development

Group Communication with the United States Congress

With the realms of communication, the modern discipline of communication includes seven major areas, which include interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication, group, organizational, public, mass and new technologies, and intercultural communication. The third branch of communication, which is the group communication, involves social groups, decision-making, and work teams among others. Importantly noted, for more than a decade, the United States Congress has been working to improve the communication between members of Congress as well as between the Congress and the U.S. citizens. Consequently, when designing and passing into law public policies or when addressing their constituents, Members of the Congress engages group communication where they debate, express their opinions, criticize, agree and disagree. Consistent with the information we make a comprehensive overview of the type of communication occurring in the group and relate the stages of development with the Tuckman’s theory. We further identify barriers to communication exhibited in Congress and explore the role of groupthink in contributing to the specific barriers. Lastly, we recommend the steps that should be taken to facilitate effective communication.

Types of Communication occurring in the Group

Ideally, group communication is the interaction between three or more interdependent members who work together towards a common goal (Gritsenko, 2016). In the case of the United States Congress group communications occurs in three forms; task communication, procedural communication, and climate communication. According to Wood (2009), task communication involves focusing on the problems facing the group and coming up with solutions by providing ideas and information to ensure members understand and reason when evaluating ideas and information. Within the Congress, Members exchange information to address issues affecting the citizens in their respective areas and to come up with solutions. Procedural communication is initiated when a group needs to get organized and stay on track during its decision-making process. During this particular type of group communication, an agenda is established and comments coordinated by different members so that everyone gets an opportunity to participate. This is especially applicable in the U.S. Congress when a bill is in motion and Representatives are giving out their opinions. In climate communication, members engage constructively and evaluate ideas critically to find the most suitable option or alternative.

Stages of Development according to Tuckman’s theory

Building an effective team is necessary to create an appropriate organizational environment. Bruce Tuckman’s theory outlined four major stages of team development, which include forming, storming, norming, and performing. Ideally, as Zoltan and Vancea (2016) elaborates, in the forming stage group members start to know each other and exchange information as they test each other. The second stage, the storming is where group members test the knowledge of their leader and his/her management strategies. In the third stage, norming is when individuals start resolving their differences, appreciate the strength of their colleagues, and respect their leaders. The performing stage, which is also the fourth stage, is when the teams’ hard work leads to the achievement of the organizational goals. There is also the fifth stage, which was added later; adjourning and involves the completion of tasks as members bring some sense of closure and bonding. Consistently, the United States Congress usually passes through the fourth stage of performing where they engage in positive and creative discussions and end up with the fifth stage as they bring motions to closure.   

Five Barriers to Communication Exhibited in Congress

While Members of the Congress genuinely wants to communicate, several barriers hinder effective communication. Consistently, the five barriers to communication exhibited in Congress include the work environment, individuals’ attitude, prejudices leading to false assumptions and stereotyping, information overload, and cultural barriers. Virtually, the environment is the setting where communication takes place. Noise and temperatures may affect effective communication, especially as Members argue and raise their opinions. In this case, the leaders or the person-in-charge should ensure that the work environment is not a barrier to group communication by eliminating noise such as personal conversation among members or people who speak as others do. The other barrier is the individual attitude, which often affects effective communication, especially if people under personal or work-related pressure they are less likely to participate in the right way. The other barrier is prejudice leading to a false assumption. Apparently, this is evident with some congressional staff who do not trust advocacy campaigns, especially when they carry an identical message. The majority believe that the messages are sent without the knowledge or approval of the constituents and often ignore these messages or even block them as spam. Along with that, information overload is another barrier that hinders communication among groups. Unfortunately, although elected to represent their constituents, some of the elected people lack the proper skills to communicate their opinions and perception in ways that the citizens will understand. Over communicating, is one of the common problems since it grabs out the interest of the public. Consequently, the United States is made up of different people from various walks of the world. These people have different cultures with acceptable norms and behavior. Communicating a message that is acceptable to one culture may be offensive to another, which can be a major barrier to communication.

Role of Groupthink in Contributing to Barriers

Mostly, groups make decisions in organizations because they generate more information and knowledge. Unfortunately, despite the benefits, group decisions have their weak points. According to Lunenburg (2010), one such dysfunction is the phenomenon of groupthink. Virtually, groupthink is a case where a group reaches a unanimous decision to take a particular action despite several facts pointing to a better and correct course of action. This means that members agree and often feel threatened when they do not agree on the same course of action. Better alternatives are overlooked, critiques or opinions, which may result in poor decision-making and unmet goals. In the case of the Congress, effective communication has been influenced by the element of groupthink as most people develop prejudices and stereotyping due to influence from their thoughts and the influence of others. Consequently, the groupthink phenomenon is likely to affect the development of public policies as members get influenced by others and fail to critique where necessary and instead choose to agree with the group.

Recommendations to Facilitate Effective Communication

Ideally, the most effective solution to facilitate effective communication is to work towards eliminating the barriers to communication. In place of groupthink, teams should have a process that checks for assumptions behind important decisions such as critiquing what they feel is inappropriate and giving alternatives backed up with facts. The Congress should encourage the element of independent discussions and compare results. Expert groups can also be invited and encouraged to challenge the view of the group. For instance, when passing important bills such as the health policies, they should consider inviting stakeholders and encourage them to criticize their opinions.   


Gritsenko, V. (2016). Interaction on Online Forums and Group Communication: A Case Study of an IT Support Community. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 236, 14-24.

Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). Group Decision Making: The Potential for Groupthink. International journal of management, business, and administration, 13(1), 1-6.

Wood, J. T., & Royster, T. S. (2009). Communication in our lives. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Zoltan, R., & Vancea, R. (2016). Work group development models – the evolution from simple group to effective team. Ecoforum, 5(1), 241-246.

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