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Anthony (Tony the Tiger) Tarantella is a conscientious and assertive man who has always liked working in groups. In addition to being a member of a large family and group of friends, he enjoys playing Tuesday night basketball games on a neighborhood team and making Saturday morning food deliveries for Meals on Wheels. At work, Tony manages the sales and advertising department for a small business. For the last 20 years, his group experiences have been positive and enjoyable.
In the last few years, however, he has sensed a change in his feelings and commitment to several groups. The members of his basketball team often miss games, saying they’re too tired, too busy, or too injured to play. His solo drives to deliver Meals on Wheels have become lonely. On the job, he seems to have less time to complete more work. His young and less experienced colleagues respect his expertise, but he no longer gets a boost from working with them.
Tony understands that things have changed. His family has grown up, and he has less control over their lives. Some of his close friends have moved out of the neighborhood. Retirement has claimed several of his best coworkers. He also recognizes that his way of working may not be in sync with the work styles of others. He can tell that some staff members don’t like his insistence on establishing clear schedules and meeting all deadlines. He knows he becomes aggravated and critical when a basketball game is cancelled, a Meals on Wheels schedule is changed, or someone makes a last-minute request for an advertisement. He finds himself losing patience with his wife and kids when they change plans without telling him. To make matters worse, everyone knows he’s frustrated, but he can’t seem to tone down his judgmental reactions. A few times, he’s lost his temper over small issues and had to apologize for his behavior. Tony decides he needs to take a good look at himself to help figure out how to recapture his commitment to group work.
When you finish reading this chapter, you should be able to answer the following critical thinking questions about this case study:
1.What needs motivate Tony’s participation in groups? To what extent are those needs met in his current job?
2.What roles does Tony assume in his group, and how do these roles affect his attitude and behavior as a group member?
3.How can Tony balance his interaction style and become more assertive than aggressive?
4.Which dialectic tensions help explain the problems Tony is experiencing as he works in groups?
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