Speak. During the meeting, speak to share information but be short, simple, and concise. Plan what you are going to say before you say it. This will help you focus and save the team time. Encourage building of ideas. This stimulates interest and involvement. Although you or others may not have anything to contribute initially, many people can add their ideas to others. Avoid personal remarks. Remember, it is not personal. Keep remarks focused on the mission, goal, problem, and issue. Also, avoid any words that may trigger an emotional reaction. These types of words may refer to race, sex, religion, politics, and the like.
Listen. Again listening is essential during a meeting. Let another person convey his/her message. Do not interrupt the other person while he is speaking. Involve yourself in the message. Look for ideas you can support. Determine the central theme or concepts. Summarize and paraphrase frequently. This provides the speaker with feedback on the success of the communication. It is also the only way to confirm your understanding of the information. Further, there may be another team member who does not understand. All critical ideas must be repeated by another member and discussed to ensure clarity of ideas necessary for consensus decision-making. Talk only to clarify while you are listening. Effective listening requires your full concentration. Empathize with other people. In other words, put yourself in their shoes for a while. You do not have to sympathize with them. Empathy helps you understand; sympathy may actually be a barrier. Nurture active listening skills. Active and effective listening is not natural. It requires dedicated concentration of effort.
Cooperate. Cooperation makes a meeting work. Consider the self-esteem of others. This will give them the confidence to participate. Operate with the team— give others a fair chance. Do not go outside the team to seek action or talk about other team members. Observe others' reactions. This provides feedback on true reactions. Use this to find common ground for negotiations for win/win solutions. Pursue a common focus. As long as the team focuses on a common goal, the team can work. Many times a common focus overcomes many conflicts as peer pressure to achieve a shared result overshadows the personal needs of team members. Establish open communications. This is necessary for any cooperative effort. Recognize individual contributions. This helps stimulate more participation. Allow positive conflict. This leads to consensus decision making. The team will support a decision better if positive debate was endorsed during the meeting. Trade-off ideas with the group. This distributes ownership to the whole team. Encourage trust. This is the most important ingredient to developing and keeping cooperation on the team. Without trust, there can be no real cooperation during the team meeting.
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We can all recall situations where we have utterly failed to listen to what someone else is saying. For various reasons, we are simply not taking in anything useful. How many times have you been introduced to a person by name only to not know what their name is thirty seconds later?