Cocktail party effect; dilemmas that may arise within a team setting

Essay by jessdm1223University, Bachelor's March 2009

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The threshold for auditory stimuli is different for every individual and this makes learning in a team difficult, especially when the members of the team are using phone conversations to meet the majority of the time. It is impossible to see another member's facial expressions or body language. Therefore, spoken word is the only way to communicate with each other in this type of meeting. If one member is unable to hear clearly or decipher exactly what the other member is saying the entire team suffers. This is especially common when a conversation is being held among three people on the phone. All the voices are lower and for some people it is difficult to hear every word that is being spoken.

Another dilemma to consider is the distractions in each member's environment. It is already difficult to fully comprehend information when it is being spoken from two separate people at the same time, but in a situation where one or more persons has background noise in their immediate environment it not only disrupts that person from their train of thought, but also every other member who can hear the disruption.

For some individuals this is not a problem as they are able to block out noises that do not pertain to their main agenda, but for those who are unable to do this, all information given at that time is not successfully comprehended.

I found myself in this situation while speaking to a fellow team member on the phone during a car ride where my husband and daughter were both in the car. I attempted to apply all of my attention to this phone conversation, but the voices of the others in the car clouded my train of thought and any intelligent conversation between the other member and I was mentally lost.

The best way to overcome this problem is to decide as a team the best times to meet for each individual to ensure each member is able to focus to the best of their ability without distractions. One person should speak while others listen to avoid confusion and difficulty understanding what is being discussed. Also, the team must realize that everyone hears differently and therefore the speaker must speak loudly and clearly so that all members can understand as much of the conversation as possible