When we are hosting coalition and workgroup meetings, we want people to come ready to share their perspectives and contribute to the common cause. Although we may not always explicitly say it, we want to create an atmosphere of trust so that people are willing to engage and share their best. In order to do this, one of the common meeting principles that I have appreciated and utilized is: Be Respectful. This is one of those that is really easy to say but not always easy to describe. Join me this week as I share three ways to practice “being respectful” in your next meeting.
One person at a time.
One of the skills my daughter (who is in first grade) is practicing is the idea that only one person speaks at a time. She knows not to interrupt or to “talk over” someone else and actually challenges us to do the same at the dinner table. 🙂 As I consider what it means to “be respectful,” this is one of the best ways to practice this skill. When we let one person talk at a time and avoid side conversations, we are demonstrating respect to that person as well as the rest of the participants. Although we may be particularly excited about a topic and want to interject our perspective, the most respectful thing to do is to nod your head, smile and wait for your turn to speak. If you are struggling to contain your excitement in an online meeting, you can use the reactions or the chat. This allows you to avoid interrupting and still engage in the discussion. When in an in-person meeting, bring a paper and pen with you so that you can write down the thoughts that you really want to say while someone else is talking.
Your coalition members, partners and team members can have different perspectives and viewpoints, and depending upon how they are presented, they can be either respectful or disrespectful. Although we may not enjoy conflict, we can model the way and encourage others to practice how to disagree in an agreeable way. When we disagree, we can still practice listening, asking questions and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective. Once we have an opportunity to share, we can acknowledge that perspective and provide a new and different perspective to consider. When this is done calmly and kindly, you are able to demonstrate respect and still consider multiple different perspectives. Alternatively, if people begin personally attacking others and their perspectives, yelling, accusing, or using unfavorable non-verbal communication (eye-rolling, glaring, etc.), then we are engaging in a disrespectful discussion. When you are in a meeting and the participants can disagree agreeably, there is an openness and opportunity for learning and growth. Alternatively, when participants disagree disagreeably or defensively, everyone is uncomfortable and you have lost the ability for the group to move forward productively at that time.
Honor one another.
We can honor one another in our words and our facial expressions. When someone else is speaking, we can pay attention to the person and use facial expressions and other non-verbal communication to show interest, kindness and support. Once they have finished speaking, we can use words to show appreciation for their comments and perspective. We can speak well about other coalition members who are in the meeting as well as those who are not in the meeting. Depending upon the setting, context and participants, honoring one another may look different. One of the concepts that aligns with this consideration is Cultural Intelligence . As we develop Cultural Intelligence, we will improve our ability to honor one another in ways that are received as honoring. When we practice honoring one another, we are demonstrating respect.
As you practice the meeting guiding principle, Be Respectful, which of these do you most often practice? Are there other examples you like to use?
If you would like more support in leading meetings and practicing these and other principles, check out my free e-book, How to Lead your Best Meeting.