The Importance of Communication –Part IV
Next week we are facilitating a meeting with a group that has not met since May 2018. Prior to that last session the group had been meeting almost on a monthly basis for the previous several years. So, as in the previous blog in putting together this meeting, decisions were made who would participate, an agenda was developed, previous ground rules were reinforced and logistics on how to conduct the meeting were determined. And, of course, all of this was communicated to the participants.
And as we work with that group, we understand the importance how to run that meeting to meet their objectives. In moving from preparation of a meeting to actually running the meeting, we will continue to need effective communication skills. For that we break down “running the meeting” into two steps a) opening the meeting and b) running the meeting. For this blog, our focus will be on opening the meeting. Now this should be simple yet many a meeting can go off track because we don’t take the time to properly start/open the meeting.
We both have been in meetings where whoever is “in charge” says let’s begin and starts talking immediately about the issues. We say stop. Because there are some important questions that have not been answered, Is everyone else ready to begin? What exactly are we doing? How will we get there?
Opening a meeting also requires preparation and communication because to move forward requires “buy-in” from the group. So, whether you are the group’s facilitator or chairperson (co-chairs) there are some basic tenets to getting a meeting started.
First, have everyone introduce themselves. Sounds simple, but don’t assume everyone knows each other. Especially if the meeting involves others from different parts of your organization. Also, in our meeting next week, there are four new participants from the May 2018 meeting.
In our experience we use introductions to ask these questions like,
1) tell us your name;
2) what you do;
and 3) what your expectations for the meeting
Let’s focus on #3. Why is that question important? The best way we can answer that is while I know why I am in this meeting do I really know why you are there? Don’t guess and don’t assume; let them tell you. Even if their response is “I don’t know” or I am here to find out, at least now the group knows that.
Now, you may ask doesn’t this take time and we may be on a strict time constraint. Short answer is yes. Also, you may have a lot of people in the room (which in itself may be a problem) therefore, getting expectations may not always be realistic. However, should you do this, remember this one rule, these expectations are not up for debate. Your only objective here is to listen and learn what others expect.
Once introductions are done it’s a good idea to reinforce and/or establish roles and responsibilities. Is there a group leader(s) who will lead the discussion, does the group have a facilitator and recorder, who is the group’s timekeeper ensuring you have enough time to discuss the issues? These are critical roles to any group’s success. Everyone needs to understand and be on board with who is doing what. The same applies to reviewing/reinforcing behaviors (ground rules) for the meeting.
So, we have introduced each other, established roles and reinforced our ground rules. Now, and maybe most critical we need to review the agenda.
Most meetings occur at least several days and/or weeks after the agenda has been prepared and sent to the group. Workplace issues can and do change during that time and these changes could impact your meeting. There can also be new issues that arise after the agenda has been prepared that could also impact your meeting.
Connect with us today. Follow this link to take advantage of our discount price for first time Clients. We look forward to assisting you.By taking the time to review the agenda we can make everyone aware of these issues and allow the group together to amend the agenda to reflect these changes. Remember the Agenda is like GPS in that while it guides you, we still do the driving. And haven’t we all because of unforeseen circumstance needed to change directions to get where we want to go.
And once again even with the “simple” task of opening/starting a meeting, we can see the importance of effective communication in helping us meet our objectives.
So, until next time I & I Resolutions remain committed to helping groups resolve their issues and become more productive.
We’d like to hear from you. Are you finding it difficult to navigate through your meetings?
Does communication seem to be a challenge?
Why not take advantage of our First Time Complimentary Consultation Service? We are standing by to get your questions answered!
Feelings. Let’s be clear, feelings are very personal and in the mind of the feeler their feelings are correct. No one can ever tell someone how they feel or that their feelings are wrong.
Regardless of what the receiver thinks, he or she cannot tell the sender how they feel. Many times conflict gets caught up in the explosion of feelings. That explosion may actually unearth the true problem from the perspective of that person.
We can’t forget the other party in this conflict. They also have feelings which are personal, near and dear, just important and true to them. Thomas and Andy have a lifetime of experience of dealing with parties who have had these feelings.
That insight and experience, not theory, allows us to gain the trust and confidence of the parties that their truths are heard by all. We are truly committed to the following, if it (your feelings) are important to you, they are important to us.
But know this. While we fully understand and respect the individual’s feelings, we harken back to the immortal words of the rock band, The Eagles, “there are three sides to every story, yours, mine and the cold-hard truth”. While this provides a little humor, we at I & I Resolutions cannot emphasize enough, not every conflict is solvable. However, we can assure you that we will do everything in our ability to make sure you have identified the proper conflict.
Take a few moments to speak with us. It could make a positive difference in your workplace.
As children we resolved our dispute using the weapons of words because size was so disparate. Words are powerful and they are the essence of mediation. We need to convey our thoughts and feelings through the words we communicate including validating those thoughts & feelings. Also, one of the great compliments we constantly hear about mediation is that may be the first and only opportunity to convey your thoughts and feelings in a safe place.
One of the best descriptions we have heard about mediation is that it is a facilitated discussion where all of the parties in the dispute can speak their thoughts/feelings and listen to the thoughts/feelings of others.
With the assistance of an impartial third party, we can do what we did as children growing up, use discussion and talk to each other instead of past each other. This usually leads to more durable resolutions (again see how important defining the problem). Also, even if the parties do not resolve the conflict mediation, they are miles ahead of where they were in understanding the conflict and each other.
Thomas and Andy feel uniquely qualified as mediators and conversationalists to help you by actively listening to your issues and concerns and asking the right questions to draw out the true conflict.
Be sure to look next week as we address the topic of people’s feelings.
Part 2 - Identifying the problem is so critical to conflict resolution, we are dedicating week 2 of this blog to its further discussion. Unresolved conflict can lead to unproductive employees who can become saboteurs costing your organization millions of dollars in lost production. Identifying the problem and attempting to resolve can further avoid other symptoms of an unhappy employee, which include absenteeism, and litigating the issues. In the worst case, it could lead to workplace violence. And think about it, because we did not take the time or have the skills to properly identify problem/issue(s).
Again, let’s be clear, there is no magic pixie dust that we can sprinkle over parties and magically solve their problems. However, if we can at least address the real issue, we have a chance to solve it. I & I Resolutions will work with you and provide assistance and skills to help you identify the problem that could lead to resolution. Again, the critical factor is to identify the real problem. Once identified, you have a fighting chance to resolve the problem. Even if you do not resolve it, you have a clearer lay of the land and what you are up against.
(Part 1) What’s the problem? Easy question, or so it seems? Before you go charging your Omaha beach, let’s take a step back and let’s begin a metaphoric pre or post mortem if you will, of common misunderstandings of most practitioners have in ‘what’s the problem”
Conflict is critical in life and most stories, plays and TV shows. How it is developed for media is one thing. How it unfolds in life, uncontrolled, is quite another!
In a land of make believe, we can control & utilize conflict in a variety of ways. In the real world, workplace, it does not work like that. A critical misunderstanding from theorists and non-practitioners is to solve a problem without really understanding with what they are trying to solve.
Let us recap. Already we have defined conflict as real and fictitious and we have spoken conflict that is controlled and that which is not. For example, what would MASH be like without the character of Frank Burns, the antagonis? Or the Big Bang Theory without Sheldon and countless conflict with everyone. Again, this is controlled and done for purpose.
Uncontrolled conflict by its nature, is not as manipulative, but can have the same positive effects if identified properly. Think about it, do we dive into a car repair, medical issue, house repair, without first properly defining what the problem and how much it will it cost. Once you understand the problem and the cost, then you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
Therefore, before any of us try to resolve any problems, it behooves to properly take the time to identify what the real problem is. In the workplace it could be something as simple as a work procedure, or as complicated as how you act with other employees. Thomas and Andy have done this with numerous individuals and groups and seen it work. They guarantee few things, but as close guarantee as they would, if you utilize their services you will have made a herculean effort and succeed in defining what your problem is.
Stayed tune, more to follow (film at 11).
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