Working With Different Personalities

It is never fair to label an individual but there are some personality types that could prove to be more difficult than others. We all want to flex as best we can to help others fit and have an opportunity to experience Jesus. At the same time, we don’t want to sacrifice the goal of having that experience for the sake of not hurting someone’s feelings. Here are some ideas that might help us walk this tightrope.

The Talker
Talkers love being the center of attention. It does not matter the subject, he has an opinion – even if he has no idea what he is talking about. Obviously this hinders community. Before you duct tape his mouth shut:

1. Sit by the Talker. This will lessen the eye contact with the leader. Eye contact is an invitation to talk. If he interrupts, you can softly touch him as a cue to wait.

2. Harness his leadership skills. Ask him to lead a discussion or icebreaker. This not only gives the Talker an avenue of release but develops leadership skills.

3. Speak to him privately. Be loving and honest and tell him the dangers of speaking too much. It crowds others out, you are communicating that you have it all together, you’re not still or quiet enough to hear God’s voice.

4. Develop a way of communicating to him when he is close to the “Obnoxious line.” Try to observe a “3 opinion limit” per LIFE Group meeting.

The Thinker
She is usually quiet and reserved. She will not speak unless specifically asked but notices everything that goes on within the LIFE Group. The Thinker has a tendency to be drowned out by louder personalities. Yet, the thinker must also get out from behind her mask if she is going to experience spiritual transformation. Before using water torture:

1. Sit across from her. Eye contact invites response.

2. Direct specific questions her way.
Only direct low to medium risk questions unless you have an extremely close relationship. Allow her time to respond.

3. Positively affirm when she does respond.

4. Spend one-on-one time with her so she will open up easier.

The Theologian
The Theologian has forgotten more scripture than we know. He has the danger of either intimidating or annoying non-believers and young Christians. The Theologian can be more concerned about the “right” answer than being real. Before packing a NIV in his mouth:

1. Push him to dig deeper. Never be satisfied with his first answer. Get him to be specific and push him to the next level.

2. Why is always a great follow-up question.

3. Play the devil’s advocate with him.

4. Avoid asking easy questions.

5. Let the Theologian lead a Bible study one night.

The Distracter
The Distracter makes coffee nervous. She is a walking bundle of energy and ends up being the focus of the LIFE Group. Before shoving Prozac down her mouth:

1. Ask her to bring snacks or lead an activity. This will give her some direction for her energy.

2. Make sure to use active learning with the Life Group – a lot!

3. Give her something to do during Life Group – write poetry, art, story – that can later be brought in to the discussion.

4. Spend some one-on-one time with her and ask her what would help.

The Debater
He challenges every point – not because he necessarily disagrees with it, but because he can. While this is conducive to great discussions every now and then, it can shut others up in the group and make them feel threatened and stupid. People aren’t vulnerable when they feel threatened or stupid. Before getting violent:

1. Establish some safe ground rules for the group. It is okay to disagree, not okay to attack. Only one person may talk at a time.

2. Talk to the Debater alone and point out that while he has a lot to offer the group, he is hurting community by constantly attacking. The point of small groups is spiritual transformation, not to win an argument.

Next Session: L I F E Unpacked

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