In the office, silence is not always golden. In business meetings, biting your tongue and accepting every other decision without batting an eye could prove to be an unsuccessful tactic for everyone, as well as frustrating for the individual. We can believe it if to say it is an expert in business dynamics such as Morten T. Hansen, professor of Management at the Universities of Berkeley and Stanford, former consultant of the Boston Consulting Group and author of the bestselling essays “Great at Work and Collaboration ”and“ Great by Choice ”. A study of him, conducted on five thousand between managers and employees of North American companies, highlighted a link between the ability to generate discussion during meetings and professional success.
Dissent, in short, is not taboo, but rather allows you to create what the expert calls a ” good conflict “. But often the opposite happens: many people, explains Hansen, stay away from the discussion, confusing the expression of disagreement with personal attacks. Nothing could be more wrong, because this attitude makes the meeting become an empty container (or a waste of time, to be honest). However, even the most submissive can train for “good conflict” by following six good habits.
Think of a good question
If you want to create a productive discussion, start with a question. The interrogative form is excellent for stimulating interest, involving and obtaining collaboration. Instead of starting by saying what should be done – in a project, with a client, within a team – it is much better to ask the opinion of others. But be careful: avoid too general questions or, worse, questions that already contain an answer between the lines.
Help the timid
We all know them: some tend to keep quiet out of natural inclination or fear of contradicting others. And then there are the newcomers, the young people, the interns. However, a true leader will know to manage the conversation by putting all the participants in the meeting at ease and perhaps containing the exuberance of the talkers. Thank those who have spoken, do not raise your voice, ask questions addressing directly to those who would otherwise not open their mouths.
Contain the “sharks”
Hansen calls them that. People who tend to create an intimidating atmosphere, discouraging contrary voices. On the other hand, a good leader will be able to communicate the idea that everyone can speak, with phrases such as “Allow me to express a risky opinion” or “I appreciate the suggestion”. However, only one in five people is naturally capable of creating such a climate.
Bluffing is allowed. Sometimes, to bring out the true thoughts of your colleagues or customers, you may have to pretend to be skeptical or against an idea. By doing so, you will stimulate the arguments and see how solid they are.
Take the third grade to ideas
The assumptions of any project must be solid. To verify this, a good leader must “interrogate” the idea with the accuracy of a detective dealing with a criminal. Analyze it from your point of view, ask who is more experienced in turn, carefully, and if necessary repeat the procedure.
Look for sincere supporters
The confirmation bias, a phenomenon known to cognitive psychology, is the mechanism by which we tend to pay attention to the data that reinforces an already formed idea and not to those that deny it. The opinion of others can serve to open our eyes, as long as we do not surround ourselves with overly condescending people. Ask others to be honest and point out the weaknesses of your reasoning.
With these tips, meetings and brainstormings will contain that bit of spice that transforms the discussion from boring and one-way to constructive, dynamic, open to multiple points of view.