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Challenges - Behavior in Groups

One of the challenges of being a Girl Scout Leader is working with adults. You interact with parents and guardians of the girls in your troop, co-leaders, assistant leaders, other troop leaders, service team members, council members, etc. You are faced with a wide range of personality types.


  • Behaviors/Techniques for Coping
  • Approaches to Dealing with Difficult Behavior
  • Problem Solving

    The following are a few self-centered and disruptive behaviors that can happen in a group along with a few ideas of "what to do about it". These may help you to be prepared when meetings begin to get off track.

    Self Centered Roles and Behavior

    Some Ideas for Coping

    The Blocker -- Goes off on tangents, consistently argues on points the group has resolved, and rejects ideas without consideration

    1. Try to focus away from the person exhibiting the behavior.
    2. Politely point out that the person has strayed away from the topic and refocus on the task you are doing.
    3. Summarize conclusions to conflicts to avoid argument on the same topic.

    The Fighter -- Attacks the motives of others, shows hostility toward the group or some individual without relation to the group’s task, and criticizes and blames others.

    1. Put a stop to it as gently as possible by getting the person to direct anger toward a topic, rather than a person.
    2. Point out where the person has been critical and why the criticism is unwarranted.
    3. Point out that you all share ideas as you work and everyone should be recognized for what they have contributed.

    The Pleader -- Proposes own pet concerns beyond reason; attempts to speak for ‘the girl,’ ‘the leader,’ etc.

    1. Give the person some attention, then focus on the priorities of the group.
    2. Ask the person gently to speak only for her self or him self.

    The Dominator -- Interrupts the contributions of others; uses authority in manipulating the group or certain members by pulling rank.

    1. Give the person a special project.
    2. Send the person on an errand.
    3. Add a strong person to the group and encourage more group participation.

    The Withdrawer -- Acts passive or indifferent, doodles, whispers to others, and passes notes.

    1. Direct questions to the person that you know can be answered.
    2. Ask the person to lead a discussion.
    3. Find ways to get the person actively involved with others in the group.

    The Talker -- Seeks recognition by extreme ideas and boisterous boasts.

    1. Use tact to interrupt the flow of talking. Ask specifically for others to comment.
    2. Indicate that you are happy that the person has so much to share and could others have a chance to contribute.
    3. Have a private conversation with the person.

    The Nit Picker -- Criticizes, finds fault with everything—the room set-up, the typing, and the materials, under the guise of helping.

    1. Try to get the person to see that these things do not affect the group that much.
    2. Ask the person to help with the next session with assurances that you will discuss it later.

    The Dependent One -- Overeager to please the leader by doing whatever is expected or desire, waits to be directed, demonstrates little initiative.

    1. Ask the person to initiate ideas and give reactions.
    2. Watch for changes to praise for initiative.



    Approaches to Dealing with Difficult Behavior

    There are two general approaches to dealing with difficult behavior: working to "cure" the behavior or devising a strategy for coping with the behavior. The goal of the two approaches is the same, to minimize the problem and maximize the use of human resources. Both approaches include the same four steps:


    Begin by trying to understand the nature of the problem. This means identifying the specific behavior that is unacceptable, determining with whom the behavior surfaces, and how frequently it occurs. Negative behavior that occurs with only one person is probably evidence of a personality conflict, rather than "difficult behavior," and needs to be worked out between the two parties involved.


    Examining how the difficult person interacts with others gives clues to the possible causes of the behavior. Determining why the behavior occurs and why it is annoying helps point toward possible solutions.


    Difficult behavior always carries a cost whether it be in terms of lost productivity, lower morale, or general discomfort. If there is no identifiable cost to you, the person involved, or to others, the behavior should be ignored.


    Once you have determined that the costs of ignoring the behavior are too high, the issue must be discussed with the offender. Plan out an approach that best fits the nature and gravity of the problem, the personality of the person involved, and your relationship with that person.


    Problem Solving

    What is a problem?

    Usually, a problem is the difference between what is happening right now and what a person would like to have happen.

    Most problems can be worked out if people are willing to follow a few problem-solving steps. The most important word here is willing. If you think there is a problem, do not wait while you get angry at what is happening. Anger does not solve anything. Positive action will.

    1. State the Problem – You need to know what the problem really is.
    2. Explore and understand the problem – What is going on when this problem takes place?
    3. Decide what you would like to have happen instead of what is happening now.
    4. What can you do about it?
    5. Talk about the consequences of each solution. What will happen if you decide to do a certain thing?
    6. Make a choice – What solution are you going to try first?
    7. Take action on your choice. Make your choice and do it.
    8. Evaluate – How did it go? Was the choice you made a good one? Do you need to make another choice?