When you start an exercise in your group, do you know who will go first? It may depend on the purpose of the exercise and it’s wise to think it through in advance. Whether you hit that goal often depends on who goes first. That person sets the tone for the everyone else and it impacts the rest of the exercise.
This is a time when it pays to know your group members well. If you want the group to get into a deep discussion don’t start with the person who resists sharing. Instead, start with a member who has made reflective and thoughtful contributions in the past. That person will set the bar for everyone else.
This tactic works for setting the tone in any discussion. When you want to hear from a person who speaks from experience (as opposed to giving advice), start with someone who is stellar at story-telling. And if you want everyone to have a light-hearted day, start with your sunniest optimist.
You may even want to reach out to the right person in advance, to let them know why you’d like them to go first. Then they can come prepared to model the behavior that you’d like everyone else to share. When the right person is the first one at bat, they can hit it out of the park and everyone else can follow suit!