The Essence of a Women’s Group is Trust

Trust – Firm reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, or character of a person or thing.

In a successful women’s group, the members must all trust each other enough to be able to open up and share their experiences freely. As we know, without sharing there will not be growth. But how can women in a diverse group learn to trust each other? How long before they can open up honestly?

The secret to building a trusting relationship is to start small. Begin with small acts and gestures of trust and build it up from there. It will take awhile, but there will come a time when the members of your group will not hesitate to open up to one another.

Think of it like dating. On a first date, you don’t reveal all your deepest, darkest secrets. Rather, you check out the other person, see if he or she seems stable and sane enough. You get comfortable with this other person. Over time, as you participate in activities together, you start to trust each other more and both partners are able to open up.

The advantage of a women’s group over dating is the fact that no one has a hidden agenda. Nobody is trying to break your heart or planning to leave you the next day. All the women involved are eager to share their lives and support each other – it just takes a few steps to build a strong relationship among the members of the group.

You can help to build the members’ trust in each other by starting off with small non-invasive exchanges. At the first meeting, everyone will want to share a few broad details of their lives – what they do, what their family status is, and what they hope to achieve within or get from the group. That’s enough delving to start with.

Build up the relationships from there. At each meeting, have everyone contribute something more about themselves, sometimes large and sometimes small. For instance, in a parenting group, one member might discuss her son’s tantrums and mention how much trouble she has in stopping them. After hearing her problem, other members might join in, confide that they had the same issues when their children were younger and offer some suggestions. When one person opens up, others feel free to open up as well. It’s less scary when someone else goes first.

Members may feel uncomfortable opening up because they’re scared of being ridiculed or hurt. Some people can be very judgemental; sometimes they speak without thinking. Of course, in a women’s group people are more supportive, but it takes time for this to be proven. As one woman opens up, others will start sharing their thoughts and experiences as well.

Trust is a matter of give and take and does not happen in an instant. You can’t force the group members to trust each other, that won’t work. It has to come naturally.

You can try some sharing activities to speed up the process. One such activity is a “gratitude round” where each woman is asked to list the three things she is most thankful for since the last meeting. They can be deep or they can be light. This helps the members to share their joys and their hopes. When everyone exchanges their news at the beginning of each meeting, members will start to know more about each other. This increased knowledge means that members will become closer, each letting the other members in a little bit at a time – again, breaking down barriers and leading to increased trust.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that trust does not happen overnight. Each member’s integrity, ability and character will become more visible as time goes on and trust will follow naturally. Give the relationship among the members time to develop, don’t rush things and watch how your group matures and grows closer.

Karen & Pat
maximize the power of the women in your life

 
 
 

“Essentials for Starting a Women’s Group”

 

 

 

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