Dear Agony Aunt,
I have a module that requires group work, but I just don’t get along with the people I’m supposed to be working with. We didn’t get to choose our groups and we aren’t allowed to change them either. But I seem to be stuck with the worst students at the university. One has never shown up to a meeting, while another volunteers to do loads of things (which sounds great) but they never actually do what they say they will, meaning things never get done.
These are both annoying but just about manageable, but the other two are even worse. One of them gets on with her work, but is so horrible. She constantly makes b*tchy comments about how bossy I am, but I’m just trying to get the rest of the group to do their work. One time she even planned a group pub trip and invited everyone but me because I would ‘make her feel uncomfortable.’ The last one is the worst of the bunch. He constantly disagrees with everything I suggest. From big things like the theme of the project to unimportant little details like whether we write it up on word or google docs, it feels like he jumps at any chance for an argument with me. But after all that fighting to get his way, he never contributes to the project anyway. So I end up doing his work and I don’t even get to do it the way I wanted.
The module leader told us we can’t change our group, even if we really don’t get on, so I’m not sure what to do. I don’t even care about getting a good mark anymore. I just don’t want to be around these people.
Wow, I can see how this situation is difficult for you, when group work goes well it can be a great way to learn from others and even make new friends. But, as we both know, that isn’t always the case. Your module leader has said you can’t change groups, however, it might be worth talking to them anyway. Even if you have to stay in the same group, I’m sure they will have some advice on how to work with difficult people. If part of your mark is based on assessment from the rest of the group, it might also be helpful to raise your concerns before this, in case anyone in your group gives you an unfair assessment.
As for getting the project done, I think you should talk to the rest of the group and tell them how you’re feeling. I know it might be hard to do this in person, so it might be easier to send a message to your group chat, that way you’ll be able to really think about what you want to say. Hopefully they will be receptive to this, but this might not be the case. Unfortunately, throughout our lives we will have to work with people we don’t get along with, or who don’t pull their weight. It’s not fair, but luckily this is just one university assignment, and once you’ve haded that final piece of work in, you will probably never have to work with these people again.
The most important thing is to learn from this experience. In all honesty, when you’re applying for jobs, they will be much more impressed by someone who has been able to work with difficult people and discuss it in an interview than someone who got a good grade in one module at university.
I know this situation must be hard for you, but I know you can make it through.