Every WordGo Guide can deal with challenging group dynamics by setting expectations, addressing potential distractions and enhancing the culture. In this training, James explains how to manage group dynamics.
What does the ideal group dynamic look like and how will you know when you get there?
What values and behaviour do I want to invite the Group Members to embrace as we meet?
How helpful would a WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger group be to enhance the group culture?
Every WordGo Guide can deal with challenging group dynamics by setting expectations, addressing potential distractions and enhancing the culture.
In a healthy WordGo group, people are able to share their thoughts and feel heard. The group progresses at a steady speed and no individual (not even the Guide!) demands all of the attention or dominates the discussion. Conversation, laughter and prayers fill up the room as the group grows in faith and friendship.
This all sounds pretty idealistic doesn’t it? The above is possible, but it doesn’t happen by accident. WordGo groups are made up of people from all backgrounds, personalities, stages of spiritual maturity and levels of emotional health.
When a group first begins to meet, the discussion rarely flows freely. A Guide who pays attention to the group dynamics can take a number of simple steps and utilise a few basic skills, which will significantly impact the study experience for everyone!
1. Create a group agreement
This is not as serious as it sounds, but it is a helpful step toward building a healthy group environment.
Talk through some values and behaviours that will create the foundation for a healthy culture. Examples might include, ‘Know and serve one another,’ ‘Keep Scripture central’ and ‘Listen more than we talk.’ Ask the group to share what they think will make the group an environment where people can freely share and be heard. Take note of what’s said and write it down.
Encourage the group to commit to the values and behaviours discussed, underlining the importance of remaining respectful of one another’s views, personalities and preferences. This allows you to be proactive, getting ahead of any issues that may arise - but it also gives you a standard to call everyone back to, if things do go off course throughout the weeks you are meeting together.
2. Identity & quickly address potential distractions
Over the course of gathering together, there may be times when one or two people dominate or derail the discussion. It’s important to respond with empathy and action. Depending on a person’s past group experience, their personality type or even a personal preference, they may choose to act or speak in a way that has a negative impact on the group. Use the questions to keep the discussion on track and ask the quieter members of the group to share first.
If someone continually moves the group discussion away from the passage to personal issues or irrelevant topics, thank them for sharing with the group and take time to catch up with them afterwards. Often someone taking the time to listen to what's going on in their life is all that may be needed. Creating space for this outside of the group discussion context will hopefully model when is (and is not!) a good time for these types of conversation to take place.
3. Enhance the group culture
The group discussion is just one of many opportunities for the group to interact. Providing space for connection before and after the discussion time will help your Group Members get to know each other better, gain each other’s trust and - as a result - deepen their relationships as well as the conversation.
There are a few simple ways you can enhance the gathering. Food, drink and music always help people relax. Introduce members who don’t know each other and, where appropriate, use some ice breakers or ‘get to know you’ activities to help people to find out more about each other. Creating a Whatsapp group - where members can share any updates or prayer requests - can often be another great enhancement to the group gathering.