By Philip Chalmers on Wednesday, May 31, -
Professionals with group-leading skills — counselors, social workers, therapists, etc. Teachers Health professionals and health educators Respected community members.
These folks may be respected for their leadership — president of the Rotary Club, spokesperson for an environmental movement — for their positions in the community — bank president, clergyman — or simply for their personal qualities — integrity, fairness, ability to communicate with all sectors of the community.
When might you lead a group discussion? At the start of something new.
When an issue can no longer be ignored. When groups need to be brought together. One way to deal with racial or ethnic hostility, for instance, is to convene groups made up of representatives of all the factions involved.
When an existing group is considering its next step or seeking to address an issue of importance to it. The staff of a community service organization, for instance, may want to plan its work for the next few months, or to work out how to deal with people with particular quirks or problems.
How do you lead a group discussion? In the latter case, you may have the chance to choose a space and otherwise structure the situation. Set the stage If you have time to prepare beforehand, there are a number of things you may be able to do to make the participants more comfortable, and thus to make discussion easier.
Usually, that means comfortable furniture that can be moved around so that, for instance, the group can form a circle, allowing everyone to see and hear everyone else easily. It may also mean a space away from the ordinary.
The sound of water from the mill stream rushing by put everyone at ease, and encouraged creative thought. Provide food and drink The ultimate comfort, and one that breaks down barriers among people, is that of eating and drinking.
Bring materials to help the discussion along Most discussions are aided by the use of newsprint and markers to record ideas, for example. Become familiar with the purpose and content of the discussion If you have the opportunity, learn as much as possible about the topic under discussion.
This is not meant to make you the expert, but rather to allow you to ask good questions that will help the group generate ideas. Make sure everyone gets any necessary information, readings, or other material beforehand If participants are asked to read something, consider questions, complete a task, or otherwise prepare for the discussion, make sure that the assignment is attended to and used.
Lead the discussion Think about leadership style The first thing you need to think about is leadership style, which we mentioned briefly earlier in the section. Are you a directive or non-directive leader?
The chances are that, like most of us, you fall somewhere in between the extremes of the leader who sets the agenda and dominates the group completely, and the leader who essentially leads not at all. Facilitators are non-directive, and try to keep themselves out of the discussion, except to ask questions or make statements that advance it.
For most group discussions, the facilitator role is probably a good ideal to strive for. Help the group establish ground rules The ground rules of a group discussion are the guidelines that help to keep the discussion on track, and prevent it from deteriorating into namecalling or simply argument.
Some you might suggest, if the group has trouble coming up with the first one or two: Everyone should treat everyone else with respect: No arguments directed at people — only at ideas and opinions.
Disagreement should be respectful — no ridicule. Try to keep your comments reasonably short and to the point, so that others have a chance to respond. Consider all comments seriously, and try to evaluate them fairly. Everyone is responsible for following and upholding the ground rules.
Ground rules may also be a place to discuss recording the session. Who will take notes, record important points, questions for further discussion, areas of agreement or disagreement?
Generate an agenda or goals for the session You might present an agenda for approval, and change it as the group requires, or you and the group can create one together. There may actually be no need for one, in that the goal may simply be to discuss an issue or idea.The Dissolution Discussion Group (DDG) Web site (sponsored by Agilent, Inc.) features an active dissolution bulletin board where dissolution professionals can discuss dissolution automation, autosampling, chemical and mechanical calibration, equipment, accessories, methods, analysis, calculation, regulation, and dissolution guidelines.
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Chapter 16 What is an effective group discussion? Why would you lead a group discussion? As a mental health counselor, a youth worker, a coalition coordinator, a teacher, the president of a board of directors, etc. you might be expected to lead group discussions regularly. If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
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