Collaborative design team members use feeling language in their communications with one another, dubbed feeling communications, as they negotiate their interpersonal relationships and task, process and relationship conflict to achieve successful outcomes. In this paper, we examine the use of feeling communications by design teams in a new product development class at UC Berkeley, how their use of feeling communications relates to the levels of conflict experienced by the teams throughout the semester, and how both relate to team performance. From this study, it appears that high-performing and low-conflict teams tend to use high levels of feeling communications. High-conflict teams also use high levels of feeling communications, but often suppress its use when given feedback on their process. Medium-conflict teams appear to initially produce less feeling communication, but build up to a normal level over the course of the project. These results are based on our study of 1,926 messages sent by 13 teams in the Fall 2008 class, and present promising avenues for further exploration.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.