How to Foster Discussion
One of the ways we can grow in communication skills is by fostering good discussion and active listening skills. The first thing that is crucial to setting the stage is being comfortable with silence. It often can take someone 30-60 seconds to formulate an answer to a question, so don’t always feel the pressure to interrupt the silence. Silence sometimes helps others feel heard. Second, just as our words are important, so too is our body language. Utilize it to help determine if you need to rephrase a question or go in a different direction. You might look for things like eye contact, posture, or distractedness. Lastly, being able to discern between the talkers and non-talkers, the verbal processors and the internal processors, will help create a healthy dialogue amongst everyone in the group. Everyone has a story, so how can we lean in to foster better discussion to hear those stories?
For more practical tips on leading a small group, check out the book “Field Guide for Small Group Leaders” by Sam O’Neal.