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A Few Tips for Group Gatherings…

Have you ever been in a group where there was a conversation going, yet you felt isolated or left out? Perhaps it wasn’t intentional, but we don’t always know, do we?  One thing is certain: when we are left out it can leave us feeling unwanted, excluded and sometimes it may even hurt a little bit.

I remember a little girl in my first or second grade class and she always came to school stinky. My friends would make fun of her, and talk about how stinky she was all the time. I remember telling my parents about her and them explaining to me that more than likely she was poor and unable to afford to bathe nightly and take care of her clothes the same way we could. They encouraged me to befriend her in spite of her smell, and to encourage my friends to do the same. This was a pivotal moment in my childhood and as a result I began to see people differently.  Since my childhood, I have had what I believe to be a God-given ability to notice when someone is being left out, intentionally or unintentionally doesn’t matter, I just seem to notice.  When I’m in a group setting if I notice someone off to the side, I tend to gravitate towards them. If I’m in a conversation and someone isn’t freely engaging, I tend to purposely incorporate them into the conversation. It’s just my way of making sure that the person feels included, wanted, and valued. I do this because I very much know how hurtful it can be to feel excluded, unwanted and unvalued. Jesus even has a little something to say about this in Matthew 25: 39-40:

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink?
And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth:
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.” Matthew 25:39-40 Message

Please hear me when I say, I’m not telling you to invite every single person, to avoid excluding anyone, rather I’m simply trying to encourage you to open your eyes to the moments when you have people around and perhaps someone is unintentionally being left out.  I’d like to share a few tips I’ve learned to incorporate into my own “social toolkit”, to help you become more aware of how to help others feel more comfortable in a group setting.

  • Make Immediate Introductions. Sounds basic, but I’ve noticed this isn’t as common as one might think and yet it’s vital in making someone feel included in a new group of people.
  • Guide the Conversations. I’m not saying you have to lead every conversation, but I am encouraging you to be mindful of the conversations and how people are responding to them. If one person is particularly quiet it could mean they’re uncomfortable with the topic, or simply don’t have anything to add to the topic. Typically, I try to interject a question for the new person based around the topic at hand and allow them the opportunity to share in the conversation. Sometimes that’s all they need-a window of opportunity to be included and participate.
  • Have Snacks and Drinks. This doesn’t mean you have to host (who has time for that!?). Typically, I ask everyone to bring something to share; an appetizer, a side dish, a dessert and whatever beverage they prefer. Having snacks and beverages creates natural conversation that’s perfect for new people joining in. “Who made this dessert, it’s delicious!” “Oh man, that’s my favorite wine!” etc. Plus it’s a fun way to get to know each other, their tastes, likes, dislikes, passion for cooking etc.
  • Avoid talking about Others. Again, this sounds really basic, but can I be honest? This is something that needs to be addressed among women and men alike!  However, for now, I’ll stick with discussing this among women! Women can be really brutal at gossiping/talking about other women who aren’t in the room. Ladies, this is going to sting, but gossip is one of the ugliest things women do together.  Tearing down other women to a group of women is pure evil. God designed us to lift each other up, not tear each other down! Keep in mind: If they talk about “her” to you, then they talk about “you” to her too!  Here’s what happens in a room where women gossip and talk badly about other women:
    • It brings a negative “vibe” to the event
    • It creates an unsafe environment
    • It creates an environment of mistrust
    • It divides and limits friendships
  • Avoid One-on-One Conversations.  There is a time and a place for those intimate, one-on-one conversations, and a group setting is not one of them!! Leaning in and whispering, or stepping outside of the room to have a “private” conversation can lead others in the group to feel excluded, or even talked about. Instead, reserve those one-on-on conversations for another time… you know, when you can have private time with your bestie!
  • Avoid Exclusive Conversations. In the same way that people don’t want to hear you talking about other people, they also don’t want to hear an entire conversation between two people reminiscing on “back in the day”. I’m not saying you can’t reminisce, but do so briefly, remembering your audience. Conversations should aim to remain inclusive of everyone in the group, rather than exclusive of just a couple people.
  • Avoid being on a Cellphone(s). Girl, we live in a day where our phones are what keep us connected so I get it, trust me. However, when we are in a group, it’s really important to engage with the ones who are there presently. There is nothing more hurtful then trying to carry on a conversation with someone who is more focused on posting their next social media post about the food you’re eating, or texting with the friend who couldn’t make it.  My goal during events is to stay off my phone as much as possible. I’ll check in occasionally to make sure I’m not missing an urgent message, but aside from that, everyone else can wait; the people presently in my space are my highest priority.

While I’ve never written a post like this, my heart’s desire is to shed some light on a topic not typically discussed among women. I believe all women and girls should be discussing and working on being fully present during group events. We live in a very distracted world and so it’s important that when we open our hearts and homes to others they truly feel welcomed, loved, accepted, valued and safe. So this summer, as we sit around the table, lay out by the pool, or dip our toes in the sand, may we do our best to be mindful of the people sitting around with us. Are we making them feel included, or are we in our own world? Are we loving on them and making sure they know we’re glad they joined us, or are we too absorbed in our phones or an exclusive conversation to notice that someone in the group is feeling left out?

Thank you for joining me in the space, I hope you’ll stick around!

Much Love,


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Satin Pelfrey

Satin Pelfrey

Satin is a writer, wife and stepmom encouraging others through the hard days, bringing the Scriptures alive through life-application and drawing them closer to Jesus.

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