Working in groups has never been my thing, mainly because group work forces people to work together. That means a lot more reliance on one another. Time invested in communicating with fellow group members. Conflict arising due to differences in working styles or opinions.

It’s basically impending doom in an introvert‘s dictionary – or at least a bad headache.

To make matters worse, I’ve been in too many project groups that have aggravated my fear of project work. “Bad” group mates are easy to spot. They’re the ones who are always, somehow, busy. The ones who show up for meetings only when they feel like it and then fail to contribute anything at all. Subpar work? Almost a given. And the thing that really gets my goad: Promising to deliver, then failing to deliver.


Of course, I’ve had the privilege of being part of good groups that have helped redeem the project work experience for me. My group mates looked out for one another. There was a common goal of completing the project and seeking excellence meant less conflict. Feedback was welcomed with open hearts. We readily helped one another once we were done with our own parts of the work. Everyone contributed.

Everyone owned the project.

Things also changed when I owned up to the fact that I wasn’t the perfect group member either. I, too, acted irresponsibly at times. There were moments I had too many things on my plate. I remember missing an internal deadline for the first draft of my group’s final report because I just couldn’t manage my workload. I was that “bad” group member.

Group work is primarily about relationship building. Communication – and forgiveness – is so important.

In times like these, I developed a newfound mercy for the “bad” project group members I held grudges against. I had to learn to admit to my group mates when I was not able to meet standards. And we figured things out from there, together. Group work is primarily about relationship building, after all. Communication – and forgiveness – is so important.

Nowadays, I’ve decided working well together isn’t actually that hard. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the years:


1. Understand one another’s situation

Be genuinely interested in what is going on in your project group mates’ lives. Do not jump to conclusions just because the person did not meet the deadline or deliver what he/she promised. Only when you take time to know the full story can you start to work around the constraints of each member and extend grace to them with a willing heart. Being group mates doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. And friends help each other out (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

2. Don’t make everything personal

Not everything that happens is about you. In groups, we offer feedback on each other’s work for the good of the project. Changes and modifications are inevitable in the process of completing a project. This might include taking out the section you worked so hard on to keep within the word count for the report. Or having to rework your segment altogether. This isn’t because your group members do not like you. And even if they didn’t like you, should that affect the quality of your work as a team player?

3. Play to each other’s strengths

In a project, there is likely to be a final report and a presentation. Some people love the details, others are gifted in creating mind-blowing presentation visuals. There are those who do the numbers with ease and those who prefer to write the report. Like any strong team, good group work involves strategically positioning each member to do what he/she does best. It also makes the work so much easier.


Group projects can be fun and meaningful if we choose to see the good, rather than focussing on the bad. The next time you meet a “bad” group member, don’t be too quick to cast judgement. Consider how you’re showing up to the rest of your team as a Christian first and foremost. What would Jesus do?

For myself, I think I’ll start by putting down these stones.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)