Thesis is one of the biggest academic commitments we get to have in college, so naturally, we’d want to work with the people we trust the most, aka our friends, right? After all, you get along so well that working together will be such a breeze. However, this isn’t always the case for many friends-turned-thesis mates. For the group of friends who decided to be thesis mates, will this be the end of your friendship? Here are some precautionary do’s and don’ts when working with your friends on thesis.
Do: Set some ground rules for your group.
Your relationship with one another may not have rules, but working on thesis together is an entirely different circumstance. Agree on certain ground rules for your group to make the workload easier on everyone. Set aside a day in the week for thesis meetings and do it when everyone’s free (so no one has an excuse to miss meetings) or list down the tasks each of the members are doing to keep track of your group progress and to make sure everyone is contributing work fairly.
Don’t: Be too strict with the rules and force your groupmates to agree on something they’re not okay with.
If your groupmate suddenly had a make-up class and can’t make it to your scheduled weekly meeting, don’t stress too much about it. If they don’t feel confident working on a certain part of your thesis, try to make some compromises. Do take note that you each have other academic and non-academic commitments outside of thesis so be patient with one another and learn how to give and take.
Do: Voice out your opinion (even if it opposes that of your friends).
Challenging your friends’ ideas isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it might actually be advantageous for your group if you hold a constructive discussion about your thesis. Make sure that your ideas are built around convincing points, and deliver it in a collaborative—rather than competitive—manner. Remember: It’s not a competition amongst yourselves! Thesis is first and foremost a group effort and isn’t about who has the best idea within the group.
Don’t: Personally attack your friends if you meant to challenge their ideas.
You may be used to bantering outside of thesis, but that doesn’t make it okay for you to tease or poke fun at your friends because they suggested an idea you don’t agree with. Different viewpoints may be hard to reconcile, but personally attacking your friends’ character instead of critiquing their ideas isn’t the best way to handle it; this is called Ad Hominem, and it’s not a convincing way to argue or prove your point especially in an academic setting. Don’t get personal and focus instead on building on their ideas and pointing out parts that could use improvement.
Do: Remember that despite the disagreements, they’re still your friends.
You were friends before you became thesis groupmates. Whatever disagreement that surfaced during thesis season, you’ll know it in your heart if it’s something you can still fix and work out. At the end of the day, and despite the countless squabbles, you are bound to find the same friend who’s had your back since day one.
Don’t: Be afraid to say goodbye to friendships that did not survive the wrath of thesis.
But if it took working on thesis to make you realize that your friendship is built on an unhealthy foundation, it’s okay to take a step back and reassess your personal relationship. If you find that letting go of the friendship is the best way to move forward, don’t be afraid to cut ties, or at least, give yourself some space once thesis season is done. Who knows, maybe you can find a different way to resolve your issues then.