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Posts Tagged ‘meeting management’

After the monkeys went to bed tonight my husband and I had an invigorating, um, discussion. I learned a few things.

One – not having a nanny is hard. Two careers, two kids, one dog and one preschool schedule, not to mention dinner, household repairs, laundry and a delightful 5:30 AM wake-up call this morning, leads to two very tired parents.

Two – sometimes, I need to be as thoughtful about entering into a conversation with my husband as I am with my colleagues and clients. Here are some techniques that work well when facilitating a meeting at work that I should have used tonight with my husband.

 1) At the start of a meeting, let everyone know why you’re there and what you hope to accomplish. We don’t have formal family meetings yet, but when broaching a sensitive topic of conversation with my husband, I think he’d really appreciate knowing why I’m bringing it up before we get too far into the conversation.

2) When you share information, let others in the meeting know what you expect from them. Are you telling them something just so they know what you’re up to or what’s on your mind? Are you looking for input into a decision that you’re going to make? Are you looking to make a shared decision? Clarifying this can help the other person be in the right place to give you the kind of response that you’re looking for, and can prevent ‘what do you want me to do about it?’ defensive attitudes that can take a conversation down a wrong path when all you really want is for someone to nod, take note of what you’re saying, and move on to the next topic.

3) Try a trial close. Sometimes, conversations continue far longer than they should because everyone wants to say their piece, and minor details are debated, discussed and debated again without much progress being made. Sometimes, you’re at an impasse and there’s real disagreement between the parties to a conversation. And sometimes, it’s hard to tell which situation you’re in. At those times, it can be useful to stop the discussion with a question: what can we all agree on right now? In my meetings at work, we suggest a way to resolve the topic and have everyone vote on whether they agree with that course of action. If we agree, great, we’re done. And if we can’t agree, we either continue talking or put the issue aside for when we have more information to make a decision. My home is also a place where we like decisions that are made by consensus, not decree. I think it would help some conversations end faster and expend less of our energy if my husband and I made an effort to call it and see if we could agree on a resolution to a conversation instead of over-discussing an issue. Best case, we resolve the conversation. Worst case, we pause it and move on to the things we really want to be doing. After all, there’s dinner, laundry, the house, the dog…

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Some days I am so tired I can’t imagine spending another 10 minutes playing with my kids, let alone the rest of the day. Often, I find that if I just start jumping around a lot, singing really loudly, or otherwise engaging with them in an overly energetic state, I actually build up enough energy to get myself through the day.

This also works in meetings. As corporations host more and more all day and multi-day meetings, getting through the day is becoming a big deal. And as an outside consultant, it often falls on me to facilitate all day events. If I pretend that I have more energy than I do, I can often help raise the energy level of the whole room. And if I pretend I’m trying to keep my 2 year old kids engaged, I can often keep up the energy I need to keep a roomful of adults engaged.

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