As we discussed last week, having someone dominate the conversation can be very challenging. It can be even more challenging to ask questions and try to encourage conversation and have no one respond. You definitely want to allow for short periods of silence so that your team can reflect and respond; however, if there are long periods of silence, it can be both frustrating and discouraging! So what do you do? This week, we are discussing 3 things you can do to overcome silence when you are trying to get feedback from your team.
- Ask for feedback. Schedule time to meet one-on-one with your key team or workgroup members. Try to do this in-person or via video chat so that you can see their non verbal cues. Ask if they have have any thoughts or recommendations on why people have been silent during meetings. Ask if there are anything you can do (or not do) to encourage participation. Be open and listen! After having a few conversations, you may want to conduct an anonymous survey to elicit additional feedback to see if these recommendations align with the rest of the team’s perspective. Give them multiple choice options and room for comments.
- Call people by name. During a call, similar to the suggestions for addressing a “dominator”, ask for specific input from team members. You could try something like this: “Susie, I know that you probably have some good insight related to this topic, what are your thoughts?” or “Howard, I haven’t heard your perspective yet. Do you think we are headed in the right direction?”
- Figure out a way to “see” one another. If you find that your “silence” challenges are heightened on conference calls, webinars or video chats when the video isn’t being shown, try to find a way to “see” one another. Convene smaller groups and ask them to share their video. Host an in-person meeting. Also, when you can “see” one another on video, also share your screen. We often have lots of distractions and when there is only a voice and no shared screen, we can all easily end up sending or checking emails and not fully engaging in the conversation!
What about you? Have any of these suggestions worked for you? Do you have other ideas for overcoming the challenge of “silence” in team or workgroup conversations?
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