When running groups, you will often have the unexpected to deal with.
Here are some things I find helpful.
Start with positive things. “What is working well?”
Explain the background to the task at hand and your involvement so far. People are often anxious about new situations.
Keep an eye on the time and make sure everyone has a chance to contribute before time is up. If possible, give people equal time.
Put your ideas in the pot at some stage, but do not defend them. This relaxes people.
Listen carefully and with concentration.
When you listen, look at the person speaking.
Summarise at intervals what the group and individuals are saying.
Try to get people to share their views and opinions rather than debate specific issues.
Do not argue even if you violently disagree with a point of view.
You can discuss serious topics lightly. A little humour helps.
It is probably not your fault when people find participating difficult and show it. The reason is often in the past, a simple acknowledgement and warm attention will often help. “You seem to find today difficult. Can I help?” Then listen.
Your feelings are often a guide to what is going on in the group. It is helpful to ask how people feel if you suddenly feel uncomfortable. It is probably a simple thing that you can easily fix.
Remember that, however it appears, people, including you, are always doing their best. Blaming is not helpful.