How to Handle Different Types of People

In the Small Group setting, we want to facilitate natural, organic conversation on a predetermined topic.   We want the topic to stay centralized on the scripture, but we do not want forced or pressured answers.  We also want everyone to contribute equally in the discussion.  Sometimes we have people that dominate and others that are shy.  Here are some ways to handle each of the different types of personalities and situations:

Constant Talker

  • Ask “What does someone else think?”
  • Use body language to address other people
  • Direct questions to other people by name.
  • Talk privately with the person and ask them to help get others involved.

“Silent Sally”

  • Ask easier questions
  • Direct easy questions their way.
  • Enlist the help of other group members to draw them out.
  • Express appreciation (both publicly and privately) for the contributions they make.

People aren’t engaging in Discussion

  • Play ‘Devil’s Advocate’
  • Ask ‘Why’ Questions.

A group member reaches an obviously wrong conclusion

  • Ask, “What does someone else think?”
  • Redirect their attention to Scripture which leads to a correct conclusion.
  • Speak with them one on one if the wrong conclusion is still held.

The Group drifts into Irrelevant Tangents “rabbit trails”

  • Be flexible; sometimes the issues need to be discussed even though they are not scheduled.
  • Explicitly bring the discussion back on topic.
  • Agree to discuss the topic at a later date.

A difficult question is raised

  • Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
  • Agree to research the question and bring an answer next time.

A controversial Question is Raised

  • Set ground rules before the discussion begins.
  • Acknowledge that Christians hold different views on a variety of topics
  • Scripture must substantiate all viewpoints
  • We are not going to settle this question for all Christians for all time in this one discussion.
  • Focus on what the divergent opinions have in common.

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