Small Group Atmosphere

Atmosphere is important to aiding interaction in a small group.

I'm leading a group that must meet at the church building. The classroom we use doesn't have the atmosphere I would like to have for the group, but it's the best we can do right now. Any advice?

Atmosphere is important to aiding interaction in a small group. You can bet that if a room is too hot, too cold, too bright, or too dim, discussion will suffer. The following is a list of advice I've gathered. These are applicable if you meet in a classroom, a living room, or a kitchen.

Meet in a circle, where everyone can see the face of every other person in the group. A circle helps everyone participate equally.

If you have a couch in the living room where you meet either do not use it at all or make sure only two people sit on it. Couches kill conversation, says Lyman Coleman, because the people on the ends have to talk "past" the person in the middle, and they cannot see each other easily.

Be sure everyone sits at even height. Again, this helps everyone be able to share equally, without any feelings of superiority or inferiority.

Check the thermostat. Remember that a comfortable room with one person in it may not be so when six to ten warm bodies are added. One expert suggests that 67 degrees is an ideal temperature for groups. Keep in mind that everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to temperature. If possible, meet in a room where temperature can be adjusted easily.

Sniff around. Obnoxious odors can kill a good discussion. Particularly if you have pets or young children (like mine) who tend to spill things in the oddest places, you might want to check the smell as you enter the house. Be sure the room you meet in has good ventilation. Smells can have a great effect—-positive or negative—-on you group's ...

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