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Noticing Group

Noticing Group is a Collaborating Skill. “I see you, me, and the we.”


What am I sensing/feeling about the whole group?

Noticing Group means paying attention to others’ emotions, expressions, body language (nonverbal cues), and tone of voice, as well as what they say or do not say. When we are in a group with a shared purpose, noticing the emotions and reactions of others is key to creating a group culture that generates ideas and achieves its purpose. A group as a whole has a feel or ‘mood’. The way individuals are centered and connected influences this tremendously.

Why Noticing Group — The Science

Noticing the level of group emotional relatedness or separation helps us be a more effective members in a group of any kind (family, friends, work, etc.).

  • Group emotions lead to a variety of attitudinal, behavioral, and performance outcomes at the individual level.
  • People in a group experience shared emotions that are different from their individual emotions.  These emotions affect how people within the group relate to each other and behave towards others. 
  • Reactions to social groups and their members have been clearly explained by emotions, attitude and intergroup behavior.
  • When group members learn and understand how to regulate their emotions, they are better able to handle group conflict.


  1. Barsade SG, Gibson DE. Group Affect: Its Influence on Individual and Group Outcomes Current directions in psychological science: a journal of the American Psychological Society. 2012;21(2):119-123
  2. Smith E., Seger, C. Mackie D.  Can emotions be truly group level? Evidence regarding four conceptual criteria. Journal of personality and social psychology, 2007;93(3)431.
  3.  Ibid.
  4.  Smith ER, Mackie DM. Group-level emotions. Current Opinion in Psychology. 2016;11:15-9.

How to Practice-Model-Coach
Noticing Group


  • When problems come up with your group, take note to the specific interactions that lead to the moment the situation becomes difficult. Was it a miscommunication? Unspoken or misunderstood expectations? Noticing is about paying attention to what is not working. Noticing is needed first,  before you can think about fixing what is not working. 
  • When you have a conflict, large or small, take a moment and ask yourself to “Pause. What’s the Cause?”  What are the components of the situation?  What is happening for others that is contributing to the situation? Can you see the situation from another’s perspective?  Our Connecting Skills of Listening and Empathizing help us understand the situation from other perspectives and thus to be stronger collaborators. 
  • Noticing what you think and how you feel about others. Notice when you are judging other members of your family or group in your own mind (negative self-talk). Practice pausing your judgments and changing your thought patterns to being curious and seeking understanding about their situation. 
  • In the moment noticing. When entering a room with a group, scan and notice what the person is telling you through their body language, expression, and tone.  What are they communicating outside of their words? Are they ready to participate? 


  • In the moment you notice something not working within your group, verbalize what you are noticing and ask for confirmation. 
  • Start together. Since we all bring our whole selves into the group, it helps us to both understand each other’s perspectives and center ourselves if we just quickly name what is actually going on for us.
  • How full is our resilience bucket? Each person can describe the level of their resilience bucket in a percentage, like they would describe the charge on a phone, (“My resilience is about 20% today, or 50%, or 90%), or say a number from 1-10 that describes their readiness to be present 
  • Think about family or group roles. Talk about roles with each other:
    • What is the primary role you play in the family or group?  (Example: Keep people on track, ask questions, tell stories, bring order to ideas, take notes, follow orders) 
    • Does everyone have a role? Why or why not? 


  • Set aside time to talk to with others and to ask them to reflect on a time when they noticed someone in the household struggling. What did they notice or sense about why the other person was struggling?

Resources for Noticing Group