This post was written by an external contributor. Zahra Clembintson talks us through the steps you can take if you have anxiety and are faced with a group project.
Group projects can be a complete nightmare. With the potential for so many things to go wrong, from group members refusing to do their share of the work, to tyrant-like group leaders, as well as the sheer difficulty of coordinating multiple people’s schedules, it’s little wonder that so many people hate doing group work.
But for people with anxiety, group work can be even more daunting. However, if you do have anxiety, there are things you can do to make group work less stressful, which will allow you to smash that assignment!
Being open about having anxiety may not appeal to some people. You may fear being ridiculed, not believed or being treated differently. Whilst you should never feel as if you have to disclose your anxiety to anyone, being open about it is likely to make completing your group work much easier in the long run. Who you tell about your anxiety is entirely up to you; if you feel able to tell your whole group, great, but telling only the group leader or a trusted course mate is also fine.
If you don’t feel as if you can tell anyone in your group, try speaking to a tutor who you feel you can trust. They’ll be able to let your group leader know about how your anxiety may affect your work, or intervene if things become tricky for you.
Making someone involved in your group work aware of your anxiety will mean that people are more likely to understand why you may be a bit quiet in group discussions, feel uncomfortable giving a presentation to your class or be unable to make a group meeting if you’re having a bad anxiety day.
Use your strengths
Are you an amazing writer? A computer geek? Great at doing research? Brilliant! You can use your strengths to make group work a less anxiety-triggering experience. Offer to take care of tasks which will show off your talents. For example if you like writing, you could take charge of putting together a report, or if you’re a whizz with technology, making snazzy presentations may be the thing for you.
If you’re responsible for a part of the group work which utilises your skills, you’re more likely to produce good quality work and maybe even enjoy yourself! This will benefit the entire group and of course your overall grade!
Harness the power of technology
Technology can be a brilliant way of navigating many of the issues you may have completing group work whilst having anxiety. Apps like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp are great for when you need to communicate with other group members at times when talking in person or over the phone may feel too overwhelming.
Platforms like Google Docs and Asana are brilliant ways of carrying out collaborative work without having to physically be in the same room as each other, perfect for times when being in busy, public places such as the library or a café may be too much for you.
The benefits of using such platforms aren’t limited to just those with anxiety, so you’ll probably find by encouraging the rest of your group to use them, you’ll make carrying out the work a less anxiety-provoking experience for everyone!
Focus on you
This may sound counter-intuitive as advice for being successful at group work, but hear me out. Although team-working and combined effort are undoubtedly core aspects of group work, at the end of the day, it’s your individual effort that will matter the most when it comes to getting it done.
So when working on a group assignment, try not to focus too much on what other people may (or may not) be doing and instead concentrate on doing the very best piece of work that you can do. If you do this, you can feel reassured that once your group work has been submitted, you made every effort to make the assignment a success.
Hopefully these tips will give you the confidence to now go and ace a group assignment, even if you’re struggling with anxiety. Good luck!
(Image: AP Photo/CBS, Monty Brinton)