This month, in GirlFriendCircles we're teaching "How to Plan a Meaningful Gathering" because we all know that there is a BIG difference between entertaining vs. engaging.
Why We Need Sharing Questions
What we don't want are more stressful or small-talk filled nights with people. What we do want are more gatherings where we feel seen, loved, and connected. But, unfortunately, those are too far and few between these days for the vast majority of us. So this month we're all committing to plan one meaningful night with friends we want to know better! (You can join us-- a class, supportive community, free advice, etc.)
A really important part of helping women connect is giving them the time and space to do it in a meaningful and structured way. For that reason we love Sharing Questions—they allow everyone to share, provide a focus of what to talk about (otherwise we end up talking about politics, TV shows, or the weather, instead of about us!), and help ensure that women start to feel like they know each other (as well as allowing each woman to be heard and feel seen).
Answering these questions is fun! They not only ensure that each of us has the opportunity to share, but they also focus our conversations on us rather than about celebrity gossip, news, movies, or our jobs and families.
How to Facilitate Group Sharing
Our sharing is shaped by so many things: how well we already know each other, the size of our group, the purpose of our gathering, and how much time is available, but here are a few fun ways to add Sharing Questions into your gatherings:
- Pick one question and go around the circle for everyone to answer.
- If your group is small and there’s plenty of time to share, have each person pick one question that everyone answers (so you’re answering as many questions as there are attendees, with everyone picking one question and answering all of them).
- Print and cut apart the questions and put them in a hat that is passed around the circle with each person drawing out a different question to answer.
- If the group is large, invite women to get into groups of 3 and give them 20 minutes to answer as many of the questions together as possible.
(Here are other tips for facilitating a group discussion.)
Sample Sharing Questions
If you're with people who know each other fairly well, here are some of my favorites:
• What is the one thing you want less of in your life right now? And one thing you want more of?
• What title would you give to the current chapter of your life? Why?
• What is one thing you love about your current job/role and one thing you would change if you could?
• In what way(s) are you similar to and/or different from one of your parents (or other family member)?
• What were you like in high school? And if you could go back and tell yourself one thing-- what would it be?
• What is one thing coming up in your life that matters?
• And, of course, my all time favorite question: What is a highlight and low light in the last week/month?
If you're with people who don't know each, here are some of my favorites (best ones are loosely connected to why the group is getting together):
• Share with us your name and how you know _______ (i.e. me--the host, the birthday girl, the bride-to-be) --where we met/how we've become friends.
• Share with us your name and one thing you did this last summer (or over the holidays/fall/spring) that stood out.
• Share with us your name, and tell us what you do for work, but more importantly, tell us what part of your work/job energizes you the most these days.
• Share with us your name, and because we're here celebrating x holiday, share with us one memory you have of a previous one. (St. Patrick's Day, Valentines, etc.)
•Share with us your name, and because we're gathering to meet new friends, share with us how one of your closest friends would introduce you-- how would they describe you?
• Share with us your name , and because we are all ____ (i.e. on this sports team, on PTA, part of this association) tell us what inspired you to join this group and why it feels important to you.
The real value of a Sharing Question is less about the exact question and more about letting everyone share and be seen-- it helps us feel closer to each other even if we don't end up having a 1:1 conversation with each person. Plus, it gives us the beginning of a conversation thread that we can pick up and continue when we run into that person later.
If you're not practiced at leading Sharing Questions it might feel uncomfortable at first. But remember: feeling awkward doesn't mean it's "bad" to do it-- it just means we're not very practiced yet. So let's practice! :)
What have been your experiences in groups that initiate group sharing vs. just mingling or letting only a few share? And please share other questions you've used and loved-- let's compile a list!