Communication skills are extremely important in small-group interaction. Whether verbally or with silence, group members are always communicating in some manner. Effective communication requires active listening and having genuine concern for each group member. Since it is easy to develop poor patterns of interacting with people, communication skills require practice.
Open-ended questions help create discussion in the group. These types of questions cause the participants to have a better understanding of themselves. Repeating the content of the group member’s message helps individuals know that they are being heard and that you are with them. When confronting is needed, care-fronting skills should always be used.
As mentioned earlier, communications are enhanced by having people sit in a circle. Having the need for eye contact, all group participants should be able to see each other. Group members who sit across from each other tend to communicate better than those who sit next to each other. Group facilitators should sit across from each other and acknowledge all contributions to the group process. No one should ever be put down for a comment that is in error.
Group leaders should guard against the temptation to dominate the discussion. It is a common temptation to answer most of the questions, to be the super Christian, or to turn the group meeting into a platform for preaching. The leaders should give direction to the group process by starting the discussion then steering the conversation according to the curriculum being used. It is best to divert conversations on controversial subjects that may cause division among group members. Although the sharing of past experiences can be interesting and in some cases valuable, the focus of the small group should be on the present in the person’s life. Since conversation on intellectual levels often results in surface discussion, it tends to kill personal sharing. There is a difference between what persons may think versus what they feel.