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The Manager

Why suffering is optional at meetings Add to ...

It's common in meetings to suffer in silence when others ramble off topic, repeat themselves endlessly, and rant about new ideas. But Vancouver-based meeting facilitator Eli Mina insists that suffering is optional. You could move from suffering to complaining, but because that is often uncomfortable he suggests taking your concerns a further step, to proposing another path, even if you aren't chairing the session. Here are some tips on how to make that shift:

Instead of saying "Your comments are clearly off topic," try, "Can we please get back on topic? Our time is short and we need to keep the meeting moving."

Instead of "This statement is hurtful, offensive and unfair," use "Can I make a suggestion here? I realize the issues are difficult, but it would help a lot if we lowered the tone of the conversation. We need to keep a safe environment."

Instead of "You are being repetitive and you take far too much time to make your point," try, "How are we doing for time? Are we ready to move on?"

Instead of "You always attack everyone's ideas and never have anything positive to offer," say, "I understand why you think this may not work. Can you propose alternatives that will be workable?"

In general, shift the focus from the individual to the group as a whole ("we should," rather than, "you should) and be brief and concise so you aren't viewed as lecturing.

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