Here are six behaviors that hinder the effectiveness of a Small Group. Watch for them, and stop them right away.
Behavior. Asserting authority or superiority to manipulate certain members or the whole group; monopolizing the discussion, interrupting the contributions of others; controlling through use of flattery or patronization.
Solution. Establish a procedure where each person contributes one idea to the discussion and then must wait until every other group member does the same before contributing again; interrupt the dominator, ask him/her to summarize the point quickly so that others can add their ideas, too.
Sample intervention. “Thank you for giving us all those ideas, Erin. Now let’s hear from others in the group.”
Behavior. Removing self psychologically or physically from the group; not talking; answering questions only briefly, merely onlooking
Solution. Do not let conflicts remain unresolved; talk with the person privately to find out what is happening; direct questions to and solicit ideas from the avoider so this person stays involved.
Sample intervention. “Carol, I have noticed that you haven’t been as involved in the group lately. Is everything O.K.?”
Behavior. Put down others’ ideas and suggestions; deflate others’ status; joke in a barbed or sarcastic way, belittle the contributions of others
Solution. When your group first gets together, review your contract and ground rules with them, highlighting the rule that all ideas will be accepted; the first time someone criticizes another person, reinforce this rule.
Sample intervention. “We need to solve our problem, and not attack each other’s ideas.”
Behavior. Disagreeing and opposing ideas; resisting stubbornly the group’s wishes for personal reasons; using a hidden agenda to thwart the group progress, sulking, resentful
Solution. Incorporate statements in the original guidelines that deal with cooperation and interruptions, encourage this person to explain the reasons behind his/her objection; look for any aspect of the position that supports the group’s ideas so that this person moves to center field; refocus his/her participation as a recorder or process observer; ask the group to deal with this uncooperative behavior.
Sample intervention. “It seems like we may be forgetting the ground rules we set up as a group. Should we take a few minutes to revisit them now?”
Behavior. Whispering, giggling and having private side conversations with another person.
Solution. Set guidelines and expectations at the beginning of the meeting; stop the meeting and ask those involved in the side conversation to share what they are talking about with the entire group; stop the meeting and comment that it is difficult for you to hear the other discussion or to concentrate on the topic at hand with side conversations occurring; privately talk with the distracters and discuss their expectations for the meeting’s topics; empower others to confront the distracters with how these side conversations keep everyone from concentrating on the group’s discussion.
Sample intervention. “It is difficult to focus on the discussion with a side conversation going on. Can we agree that we will all focus on the main discussion?”
Behavior. Wander off-topic, tell unrelated stories, tell lengthy personal anecdotes, repeat information already shared, hijack the conversation, say anything
Solution. Establish a procedure where each person contributes one idea to the discussion and then must wait until every other group member does the same before contributing again; interrupt the tangent-maker, ask him/her to summarize the point quickly so that others can add their ideas, too.
Sample intervention. “Thank you for all those ideas, Samantha. Let’s hear from others in the group now.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.