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Shared History

Words, phrases, and slang generally develop within group members who share common experiences. References to these memories are often fondly revered by groups and serve to form the boundaries that uniquely determine where one group stops and another starts. When groups intermingle with other groups, different meanings attached to language, and behaviors can be misinterpreted, leading to misunderstandings. It is always best to assume that another’s intention is innocent before jumping to conclusions based on your own interpretation of the interaction. Jokes and sarcasm are particularly dangerous and should be minimized until people have formed a degree of trust and history with each other. Virtual team members will need to seek understanding and avoid making judgments based only on their own perceptions and history.

Differences can emerge between members around:

Anything associated with “time” (for example, being “on time,” commitments to complete work by certain dates, urgency associated with work products, interpretations of when things must be done, or time on or off from team work).

Agreements, accountability, and the permanence of commitments made today in light of the influences of tomorrow.

Leadership, respect for authority, and degrees of freedom in decision-making for team members rather than organizational hierarchy.

Communication patterns and information flow, who needs to know what by when, and beliefs about privacy and openness.



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