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Ground Rules for Group Discussion

  • Listen with respect. Good listening requires concentration and attention. (Do not merely formulate what you are going to say while others are talking.)
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Each person gets a chance to talk. Try not to speak again until one or two other persons have added to the conversation.
  • One person talks at a time. Don’t cut people off.
  • Do not put another person on the spot by calling on her/him directly for the answer to a question (both leaders and group members should respect this rule). Remember, not all persons are comfortable sharing in front of a large group.
  • Speak for yourself, not as the representative of any group or any other person.
  • If you are offended or uncomfortable, say so and say why.
  • It is OK to disagree, but personal attacks are not allowed. No name-calling or stereotyping.
  • Personal stories stay in the group, unless we all agree that we can share them.
  • We share responsibility for making the discussion constructive. Help the facilitator keep things on track.

Further information

Ground rules, otherwise known as guidelines for discussion, help group members conduct civil, constructive discussions in the spirit of Christian community. Each small group should set its own ground rules during its first class meeting. These ground rules are to be used throughout all subsequent class meetings. The ground rules may be modified and/or added to at any time. These guidelines “belong” to the group and group members are expected to help enforce them.

Adapted from A Guide For Training Study Circle Facilitators, Study Circle Resource Center, www.studycircles.org; Created by, Kim Reindl, 2008; [email protected]

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