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Creative Group Discussions

All groups have discussions. In some groups, the discussions are lively and interesting, with everyone sharing ideas and having fun as well as accomplishing the task they are discussing. Other groups have discussions that are heavy and burdensome for the leader and no fun for the group. What makes the difference between this “high flying” and “lead balloon” approach? 3. Ideas Rejected. Some groups habitually reject ideas; that often causes members to fear criticism. If you brainstorm a lot of ideas before beginning to judge them, group members will feel free to participate. 4. Size of Group. If the group is large, some members won’t speak up. They may feel their ideas are silly, won’t be welcome or are shy about talking in front of people. Some people need time to think about bow they feel and can’t decide things immediately. This may mean that just a few people will dominate the discussion. 5. Arrangement of Group. Group arrangement can make a difference. It is usually easier to discuss things if you can see the other members of the group. If the leader is standing behind a table with the group seated in rows, it is more difficult for the group to discuss freely. 6. Apathy. Sometimes people “go along” with what the group is discussing just to avoid problems. They don’t like to see people upset, so they choose what they think they should favor. This can lead to the whole group continuing a project they don’t want to do.

Why Do Groups Have Discussions?
Most groups set their goals and decide how the group will go about meeting those goals through group discussion, allowing more members to participate in the decision. If you have more people participating, then you will, theoretically, have more creative thinking and can generate choices for problem solving or group direction.

How Does Discussion Help the Group?
Group members usually learn how other members think, what concerns they have, and what directions they feel are important from group discussions. Group members are more committed to decisions made together if they have shared in a discussion. If the group is open to hearing all sides, a discussion encourages informed decisions.

How to Lead High Flying Discussions
Present the problem in a positive way, without offering any suggestions for the solution to the problem. “We have been having a small attendance lately. What can we do about it?” Choose discussion topics that are familiar. If a topic that needs to be discussed is unfamiliar, then provide background when you present the problem. If the group is often negative, use methods of discussion included in Creative Group Discussion Activities that have rules that avoid 3-17

What Causes Those “Lead Balloons”?
1. Poor Presentation of Problem. If the problem sounds boring, negative or favors one solution, people respond negatively. “We’ve been having such poor attendance, maybe we should not meet for a couple of months.” 2. Lack of Knowledge. If no one knows enough about the subject or there is little interest, it’s hard to have a good discussion.

making judgments on suggestions until later in the decision making process. If the group is large, use methods of discussion included in Creative Group Discussion Activities that break the group into small groups or have people work individually. Allow time for people to respond. Sometimes you need to even postpone the discussion to a later meeting. Arrange the group so eye contact is possible. If the group is small, a circle that includes the leader is best. If the group is large, make some decisions in small circles and then share in the whole group. If the group tends to go along with decisions but not want to work, set up the work plan in the same meeting, deciding who will do what and when. Then, if no one wants to do it, it will be apparent right away it was a poor group decision.

2. Orienting Statements help group members agree on the answer to this question:...
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