"Let's Break Up Into Groups . . . "
We’ve all been there before.
You’re in a day-long training session or workshop, half-awake, enjoying the fact that you're away from the workplace, and then the moderator makes that dreaded announcement:
“Okay, for the next forty-five minutes, let’s all break up into groups . . . .”
My god, I hate it when that happens.
I realize that there are probably some extremely extroverted folks who actually enjoy this “breaking up into groups” type of activity. I know that some attendees really enjoy the chance to interact and gleefully collaborate with others.
I am not one of them.
For one thing, I’ve never, ever learned anything from breaking up into groups. After all, we all came there to learn from the presenter who is, supposedly, an expert in the field. Often, we’ve paid money to do so.
So, why would I want to spend an hour collaborating with four or five strangers? That's an activity I try to avoid at all costs.
Another thing -- We all know that this group activity is just “filler” for when the presenter hasn’t prepared enough substantial material to present. It’s just a way of using up time.
The worst is when a college professor has the whole classroom do this. After all, I’ve paid about a grillion dollars in tuition to learn from the professor; not from other students.
Sometimes, the presenter even makes it worse by not assigning you to a group. I hate that even more.
She just makes the announcement that you’re supposed to break up into groups of five and you’re just left to fend for yourself to find a group to glom on to. All of a sudden, I feel like I’m back on the grade school playground, trying to find some other kids who will “like me.”
I hate this “breaking up into groups” activity so very much, that I’ve actually done the following things. . . .
When the announcement is made to break up into groups, I’ll simply leave the presentation, find a Starbucks, and return when the group insanity is over with.
I’ll always express my disdain for group activity when filling out the ubiquitous survey forms at the end of the session.
When I’m the one giving a workshop, I always begin by announcing that I will never ask them to break up into groups; that doing so is a big signal that the presenter hasn’t prepared enough material to fill the time.
Sometimes, I’ve even gotten a few enthusiastic Thank you’s! from the audience.