I used to have a mis-belief that said 'adults don't need much directing/correcting in small groups because they are adults'. I have found that that simply is not true. As much as it seems wrong to me to have to 'whip' grown men and women back on track, and remind them to use considerate language, I have found this to be absolutely necessary.
Some thoughts on the matter:
- There will be no depth without safety.
- There will be no safety without boundaries.
- Group guidelines keep the group feeling safe.
- However, without enforcement these guidelines do nothing.
Spend time at your groups conception outlining the guidlines for your group. Write them down. Make sure everyone gets it and even signs it. Then hold them to it. It is for there own good - even if you feel like a school teacher at times.
Enforcing these guidelines is MUCH easier after you have negotiated and agreed on them together. The feelings of tension and conflict that arise when the guidelines are enforced also provide great opportunity for people to experience new truths and is great ammunition for 'hear and now' discussions. Many people have not seen this kind of assertiveness done well and observing this will help provide them with the linguistic skills to negotiate for themselves in the future.
Enforcing guidlines will be impossible for you if you have missasosiations and UBF's in the area of conflict. This is important for you to address and be aware of in your leading.