Listen, Learn, and Love - 3 Keys to Harmony

Dr. Joan's Advice

Date: 05/08/2014

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Conducting Productive, Harmonious Meetings

Dear Ruffled in Reno:

So your meeting went haywire! One person dominated discussion around the table and you were unable, as chairperson, to, shall we say, shut him up. This person interrupted you and other members of the committee, raised his voice, called someone a name, and generally disrupted the order of business. People gave up, stopped contributing, and discussion was stifled. Nothing was accomplished, everyone was upset, and you, with your feathers ruffled and fuffled, adjourned the meeting, to be rescheduled at a later date.

I have no idea what relationship exists between the committee members, or what their positions are on the committee or in the company. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you, as the chair, must take three basic steps before the next meeting. Then consider establishing three ground rules at the beginning of the meeting.

BASIC STEPS BEFORE MEETING

1. Send out an agenda. Clearly outline the order of what will be discussed and the purpose of each item.
2. Establish a time schedule and emphasize that you will stick to the schedule.
3. Ask for feedback on the agenda and make adjustments based on the feedback.

GROUND RULES TO SET AT START OF MEETING

1. We are all adults. We will act and speak like adults to each other. No name calling, no yelling.

2. We will follow accepted rules on how to conduct a meeting. As chair, I will follow the agenda, move the meeting along within the time available, and call for motions, discussion, and voting.

3. Everyone has a voice on this committee and will have an opportunity to contribute if desired. Since we are on a schedule, I, as chair, may limit the time each person has to speak. Thus, everyone has the right to speak, without interruption, with the exception of being interrupted by the chair due to time constraints. Another possible reason the speaker may be curtailed by the chair is if the speaker fails to abide by Ground Rules 1 and/or 2.

Let me hear from you about your next meeting. I hope these ideas help you.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Notice the ants in one ant hill. They work together.

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