Active Listening

  • Model active listening as others speak (e.g., really understand what others are saying). Ask excellent questions so that ideas are truly understood.

  • Keep clarifying and summarizing where things are and people’s input so that everyone understands the process and the discussion at hand.

  • Listen carefully for underlying concerns and help bring them out so that they can be dealt with constructively.

  • Keep engaged with the note-taker so that issues, actions, and takeaways are recorded and not lost. Confirm with the attendees that all is correct. 

Conflict Management

  •  Encourage conflict around ideas (e.g., any concerns with this idea), and then actively embrace and manage the conflict so that benefits for performance and decision making ensue (e.g., here is where folks are aligned, here is an issue that we should speak more about). Immediately stomp out negative personal attacks and bring the group back to the need for constructive discussion of ideas.

  • Maintain an environment where people are comfortable disagreeing (e.g., thank people for sharing divergent points of view). Invite debate.

  • Deal with disrespectful behavior quickly through redirection, comments about staying constructive, and reminding attendees of the meeting ground rules.

Ensuring Active Participation

  • Actively draw out input from others (e.g., asking those who have not yet contributed to share their thoughts). Keep mental track of who wants to speak and come back to them.

  • To keep an attendee from dominating the conversation, use body language (e.g., a subtle and small hand movement to indicate the need to stop speaking) and transition statements (e.g., “thank you for that”).

  • Keep side conversations at bay by reigning folks’ comments in.

Time Management

  • Keep track of time and pace the meeting effectively given the big picture of the agenda. Be willing to call a break, if needed, to regroup or if energy is waning.

  • Do not rush through an emergent issue that truly needs to be discussed. Be able to recognize if an issue raised is best addressed at a subsequent meeting.

  • Keep conversation flowing (e.g., recognize a tangent and pull it back into what needs to be discussed).

Pushing for Consensus

  • Test for agreement and consensus to get a sense of where attendees are at, but do not unduly and unnecessarily pressure others to reach a conclusion when not ready (unless there is a time urgency).

  • Be willing to take the pulse of the attendees to be sure the process is working and leading to excellent decision-making. 

  • Know when to intervene assertively in the meeting process and provide direction (e.g., the group lacks focus and is talking over one another) and when to let the process run as it is.

  • Be an honest broker of the conversation at hand, not privileging your viewpoint or ideas in the discussion. Work to remain impartial. Make it clear that your opinion is just one opinion to be discussed.