Every women’s group needs to establish basic ground rules to be successful and keep your women coming back. Our suggested rules of the road are easy to understand and easy to maintain, and most importantly must be adhered to for the group to remain cohesive.

These Group Success Practices are meant to be followed at all times during your meetings but are most important when discussing your main topic. It is at this time the group should be a bit more formal, always adhering to the following:

=== Everyone is to be treated with respect ===

Each guest is coming to a group to learn and grow. Not everyone will have the same views on topics; not everyone will have the same education or financial stability; not everyone will be on the same page. Snickering, annoyed sighing or eye rolling should never be tolerated.

=== All ideas are welcomed and there are no right or wrong ideas ===

Everyone should feel free enough to offer up her ideas or suggestions without worrying that she will be criticized or humiliated. An idea is just that, an idea. It is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, better nor worse. It is just something to be presented and thought about by everyone.

=== One person talks at a time ===

Many groups have a speaking stick, a talking object or some other prop that is passed to and held by the person who has the floor. Your meeting’s Facilitator, or if you have a designated Timekeeper, may stop anyone else who interrupts the speaker, gently reminding her that she will have to wait her turn. Most times the talking object holder should expect to speak for about two to three minutes. Remind your guests that you will nudge them to finish up if they get too long-winded.

=== Practice listening as well as speaking ===

Remember, it’s not always about you. It is said we were given two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we speak. When others are speaking, they have something worth listening to. Other people have important and differing thoughts than you, and you may learn something new from actively listening.

=== Confidentiality is crucial ===

It is often said, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Thoughts, feelings and opinions discussed within the confines of a women’s group meeting are to be cherished as something all who attended are privy to. Nothing should be repeated to others outside the meeting. It is only the concern of those who are part of your group.

Confidentiality leads to trust, which allows even the most reticent participant to open up and participate.

Remembering these five simple Group Success Practices will ensure that your members feel free to open up and participate actively in your discussions. Safety and security within the confines of your group are essential.

Author's Bio: 

Karen Fusco is co-founder of Boomers In Motion, LLC where 'we talk to women'. She is co-author of Essentials for Starting a Women's Group and Busy Moms: The Heart and Soul of a Home. Maximize the value of the women in your life by visiting Karen's WomensGroupBusyBites blog. Karen can be reached directly at karen@WomensGroupBusyBites.com.