10 November 2010 ~ 2 Comments

Awkward Silence

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of the awkward silence in your small group or Sunday school class.  You throw out a question, and all the kids sit there and stare back at you.    You, the leader, are panicking inside.  All sorts of things are running through your head about your lesson or your question or your ability to hold attention.

One of the keys to leading a discussion is the embrace this awkwardness.  You need to hold out and let the anxiety of the situation force one of the kids to talk. It’s not that the kids are being mean or holding back, they’re just not ready to talk yet.  Sit with the silence, let the anxiety work for you.

How often have you been in a class or group and been processing a question when the teacher/leader answers their own question for you when you where just about to say something you thought was incredibly insightful.  We want to avoid this.

Sometimes kids will ask you to repeat the question (good sign).  Another option would be to rephrase the question, but resist the temptation to answer it and try to rephrase in a way that’s not just filling the silence.  Once you hold strong on the silence a couple of times the kids in your group or class will know you’re not going to answer for them and they’ll begin processing an answer more quickly.   It’s also very helpful if they see that you’re not anxious about the silence, that sends the message to them that you’ve thought about this question and you think it’s important.

(The picture is of a girl doing the awkward turtle sign, something one does in an awkward situation)

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