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Small Group Leader Information

Congratulations on being selected to be a small group leader! Your job while you are a group leader on retreat is really a fairly simple one. We will be meeting in small groups for discussion three or four times throughout the retreat. Your job is to facilitate those small group meetings. Therefore, your role is more keeping the discussion going and welcoming people to share rather than being a director or instructor. The following hints will help you facilitate the group:

  • YOU go FIRST in answering each question by being as open and specific as possible – you set the example!
  • Be open to others’ viewpoints – even if you do not agree.
  • Be careful not to dominate the discussion – invite and encourage others to share their views.
  • Be aware of roles that group members are assuming and challenge them – i.e. If someone is dominating the conversation, you might say something like, “Why don’t we hear what others have to say about this.” If someone is very quiet, you might draw them in by asking them more specific questions.
  • It is not necessary to give people advice. In fact, this may even discourage people from sharing in the group. It is only necessary that you demonstrate that you are interested in and understand what they are saying. Then they will feel comfortable.

Additional Tips

1) If a group becomes too chatty or gossipy, you can lead it back to the point by using simple phrases like:

A. It seems to me we’re getting off the topic. Where did we leave off?
B. We need to keep on track. Let’s talk about this stuff later.

2) If the sharing becomes too impersonal, encourage individuals to use “I” statements. You can also encourage more personal sharing with questions like:

A. How did that personally make you feel?
B. What does that mean for you?
C. Could you explain a bit more about what that’s like?

3) You can help clarify what others in your group are feeling by paraphrasing.

Listen for what seems to be the most important feeling or idea in what is being said and respond with:
“From what you said, Joe, it seems that what is most important to you is…”

4) Often what you do not understand is probably not understood by others in the group as well

Don’t be afraid to have people repeat, clarify, or expand upon their answers.

We will meet at the beginning of the retreat to further explain the role of the small group leader and the sessions you will help with as well as to answer any questions you may have. We are looking forward to working with you! Thanks a lot!