Almost every group leader has experienced the “silent guy,” the group member that just won’t get involved in the conversation. The problem… It affects everybody in the group. When a group member turns their personal silencer on, other people in the group clam up too. How do you get EVERYONE involved in the discussion? A few suggestions… 

  • Always do an ice-breaker. The most important reason to do ice-breakers is so that everyone can hear their own voice. Not only that, it gives the small group leader a chance to affirm each individual for speaking early in the meeting which will make them secure enough to speak up later in the evening.
  • Make sure group members connect with you and one another throughout the week. The amount of conversation that takes place during the group meeting is directly related to the amount of conversation that takes place between meetings.
  • When necessary… Call the silent group member by name and ask them to respond to a question or give an opinion. When they do tell them you’re thankful for their input and that they add much to the conversation every time they share. You will slowly build a conversationalist.
  • Find out what the silent group member enjoys doing and prepare an ice-breaker or another question that relates to that person’s recreational topic (football, knitting, the hottest novel, etc…). People are more inclined to join the conversation if it is a subject they feel they are knowledgeable about.
  • Subgroup…Sometimes a group member is intimidated by the larger group but is comfortable in a group of 3 to 5.

 Sometimes a group member doesn’t talk much because the person spearheading the conversation doesn’t ask the right kinds of questions. Last week Joaquin Phoenix was on David Letterman. Ever since the time of the interview, the media has been slamming Joaquin for his apathetic responses to Letterman’s statements (notice I said “statements” not “questions”). If you watch this five minute interview you’ll find out that Letterman made more statements and waited for a response than anything else. Seldom did he come right out and ask an open-ended question.

Listen for yourself and let me know how Letterman could’ve changed his conversation so that Joaquin Phoenix would’ve been more apt to respond.