Six Ground Rules for More Effective Meetings
Wednesday, November 22, 2023 - Joe Kiedinger
Time just may be the new money. What do I mean by that? I believe the time we have in each day has an even higher value than actual cash. And it also has an even higher risk associated with poor use of it, especially in business. There are only so many hours in the day. Make sure you’re spending yours wisely!
As leaders, much of our day is spent in meetings. So, here are six ground rules that can make the most of our time:
1. Be fully present
When you enter the conference room, silence your cell phone and keep it face down on the table. Nothing says “you don’t matter to me” like responding to texts and emails in the middle of a conversation. If you’re fully committed and engaged in each of your conversations, they will be much more productive.
If there’s a good reason for being distracted, be transparent about it and reschedule for another time.
2. Know you’re here for a reason
If you’ve been invited to a meeting, there’s a good reason for it. Know that the person who scheduled it finds your opinion or awareness essential in the conversation. Prep yourself as much as possible for the conversation and contribute your thoughts during the meeting.
Need some reflection time before adding your two cents? Let it be known! Tell the group you need to think it through before responding and let everyone know when they’ll hear from you.
3. Use “and” not “but”
When responding to someone in a meeting, use the word “and” rather than the word “but.” “And” supports what was just said while “but” negates it. Test it out in your next conversation! You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to collaborate just by switching out one simple word.
4. Be respectful and dignifying
Brené Brown shared the concept of rumble language in her book Dare to Lead. She describes it as “your commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous… to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts and to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.”
For example, rather than saying, “but you didn’t say that yesterday,” use rumble language and say, ‘Walk me through that.” The first creates defensiveness, the second creates clarity. Check out her cheat sheet here.
5. Be willing to be vulnerable and humble
Receive words from others as information and don’t take them personally. Very few people are great at expressing themselves 100% accurately or as intended when speaking. We often unintentionally offend others or speak in our own language, but don’t consider how the message will be received.
Aim to listen more and consider the viewpoints of everyone involved.
6. Share your last 10%
Perhaps most importantly, don’t leave the room with questions unanswered or tension in the air. It’s better to share your last 10% while you’re there than to walk away feeling more frustrated. Set the expectation that each meeting will end with the prompt of “Any last 10%?” and that this is a safe space to share your thoughts.
It helps make hard, but necessary conversations less awkward and more impactful.