When working together in a group it is worth setting up some basic rules before starting. This is so that everyone can contribute effectively which helps to make the group work well together. This particularly applies to a discussion group, which has just been brought together. If these rules are established early the group can move quickly through the development stages of “forming, storming and norming” to the “performing” stage when the group works effectively.
Value each others contribution. Everyone has a role in a group and the most effective groups often have people with a range of personalities to meet the range of functions required in to complete a task (Leader, ideas person, evaluator, implementer, completer finisher). Some may look at strategy and the bigger picture, other may look at detail. Some may talk abstractly others may descibe examples in practice. All can contribute if valued for what they bring.
Avoid belittling or criticising anothers contribution overtly or intentionally. Ensure it is fully explored in a neutral way. Often the simplest of questions can move the group forward and trigger new ideas and thinking in others.
Own your ideas and suggestions. One appraoch is to use a soft “I” wherever you can. I feel, I believe. This should then be accepted as your viewpoint and does not derogate to a third party responsibility (they said, he says). “I” also lends strength to you statements as it reduces argument over ownership. Do however refer to others when the resource is know such as a quote or publication or specific work done.
Bear in mind the time allowed for the group and allocate sufficient time to cover each task. Decide on the time usage and ensure at least one person keeps note of time and warns the group when they need to move on to the next topic. This is often a chairpersons role
Provide an equal opportunity to speak. The outspoken may need to ask the quieter people what they think. Often the quieter person needs to think before speaking and will give a more balanced insight to the problem. One approach is for a chairperson to go round the group in turn to offer time for each person to speak.
The group should agree its main task and how it will approach this. All members should aim to keep focus on the agreed task and bring the discussion back to this if it begins to wander. Appointing a chairperson to keep the group to task and on time will help.