Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 109

LEADING SOLDIERS team member who displays high levels of narcissism likely does not possess effective communication skills or well-functioning interpersonal relationships. Developing new and meaningful interpersonal relationships is paramount to serving effectively in the military. Soldiers routinely interact with people, often without the benefit of an existing relationship. They need to be able to jump start effective working and social relati onships; active channels facilitate a good foundation for both. This is especially true for new soldiers, who typically join the service between the ages of eighteen and twenty. They often find themselves far from their homes and established social networks. Patti M. Valkenburg and Jochen Peter conducted a review of research literature regarding the Internet and social consequences, published in 2009.8 They cite studies indicating a positive relationship between Internet communication and a sense of social connectedness and well-being among adolescents. However, they highlight that this positive relationship was found primarily in adolescents maintaining previously existing relationships. When it came to creating new friendships or communicating with strangers, the positive effects between Internet communication and social connectedness did not hold. This finding supports the idea that a strong connection may not readily form between, for example, a new soldier and a team leader having no prior relationship if their interactions rely heavily on communication technology. Technological advances make communication more rapid and efficient, but speed and efficiency do not guarantee that communication will be more meaningful or beneficial to teamwork and cohesion. Direct communication and interpersonal skills are vital to developing a strong dynamic among team members. Further research supports that an emphasis on direct, active communication has a generally positive effect on social cohesion. For example, Yuhyung Shin and Kyojik Song conducted a field study of forty-two student groups to assess the relationship of communication channel and time, cohesion, and task performance.9 The two communication modes studied were computer-mediated communication and face-to-face communication. Previous studies were cited that supported the notion that “when group members are … close to one another, they are more likely to help one another frequently.”10 Shin and Song’s study demonstrated that MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 (Photo by Claire Heininger, visual information specialist, Fort Drum PAO) A soldier from 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), communicates using a Nett Warrior device during the Mountain Peak training exercise 19 April 2013 at Fort Drum, New York . Nett Warrior, a handheld situational awareness and messaging tool, is a key component of Capability Set 13, which extends the tactical network down to the dismounted soldier. more time spent in face-to-face communication had a positive effect on group social cohesion, while more time spent in computer-mediated communication had a positive effect on group task cohesion.11 Results also supported that face-to-face communication had a positive effect on how well groups performed tasks.12 Computer-mediated communication presented some value, particularly when it came to specific group task performance. However, social cohesion and group ability to perform in any context were most positively influenced by face-to-face communication. Effective, direct communication—and the cohesion it subsequently produces—is crucial in a unit’s ability to handle high-stress environments. Military units frequently serve in stressful operational environments, in combat or in garrison; other professions also work in high-stress environments. A network analysis of communication in a medical emergency department, conducted by Daniel P. Patterson et al. in 2013, illustrates the importance of communication and cohesion 103