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Having Safe and Productive Meetings

Have you ever been in a meeting where you offer an idea and someone else responds with a comment like, "No, that's wrong." or "I would argue that point."? How did that make you feel? Embarrassed, judged, defeated? You may have shut-down, decided not to contribute anymore for fear of being attacked. Or perhaps you were the person who "shot down" a contributor, not realizing the effect you had on her/him. When this happens, the desired outcome of the meeting is rarely achieved.

Instead of judging ideas or statements, we should ask questions, make statements and predict consequences in an open, sincere way without trying to control how other people respond. This allows for the conversation and flow of ideas to continue. We can then gather accurate information, speak with clarity, protect ourselves, and hold others more accountable. So how do we keep things on track, especially where there is disagreement with someone else's input or idea?

  1. Acknowledge the idea or contribution "That is an interesting idea."

  2. Ask open and sincere questions "Will you help me understand ...... ?"

  3. Offer your idea or suggestion "Perhaps another way of looking at it may be ....."

By keeping things positive, people are more likely to respect us and may lead to strengthened personal and professional relationships.

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