Communication in a group is a complex matter. Complexities rise with the number of persons involved. Communication is verbal and nonverbal, and conveys feelings, ideas, hopes, opinions, judgments, and anticipations. Good communication requires ability to listen and to enter into the experiences of others. A good communicator is able to capably express their ideas and feelings to others, but skill in communication requires practice. Often, old patterns need to be broken so that new patterns of listening and speaking can be learned.
In the next few blog posts, you will see principles of communication that can hopefully help small group leaders become more effective communicators.
Communication Principle #1:
Listen when people speak.
The most common temptation of a small group leader is to talk the group to death, dominating, explaining, and answering most of the questions, i.e., to be the "Super Christian." This temptation will be aided by the more immature members of the group who are dependent upon authoritative figures. They will always try to get answers instead of thinking for themselves. Avoid the temptation of feeling that the leader is superior, spiritually or otherwise. Ideally, the function of the leader is to start the discussion, give it direction, and thereafter simply keep the discussion personal and on track.
One important tool to use is to repeat what a person has said so that they feel like you heard what they were expressing. This will keep the small group leader in tune with each individual in the group and will make the group members feel accepted. People will then tend to open up even more and share things that can result in freedom for their own lives.
Remember, God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. As a group leader, talk less and listen more. You should see people in your group grow to a new level of openness.
** Excerpts from Small Group Skills Guide, Living Free.