More likely, they will end up with a cacophony of unpleasant noise that would make them seem like novices even though the talents and wisdom to participate well are already there.
Likewise, in interpersonal and group meetings,when we are having difficulties, this does not necessarily mean it would take a lot of work to correct course. The tendency is to think major training programs or interventions are necessary when, like the jazz musicians, the skills are already there.
The methods to transform conversations are often as simple as choosing the same song and key in jazz. It is the consistent practice of these methods in the midst of complexity, pressure and uncertainty that is difficult. Also, because of their simplicity, these methods are easy to take for granted. In fact, even skilled communicators do best with explicit application in every meeting. .
There are many frameworks of simple methods to tap into the best people have to offer (see References below). Common among all of them is a commitment to mutual vision and goals as well as mutual respect. Based on my experience and these references, here are selected additional methods I consider crucial--adaptable for both group and interpersonal meetings:
(1) Set aside the push to come to a solution or decision.
(2) But, be clear on how decisions will ultimately be made.
(3) Create time for dialogue as opposed to debate—i.e. getting all views on the table.
(4) Confirm agreement to participate in dialogue as equals (i.e. even those with authority).
(5) Clarify the agenda, the goals, and participation process for each agenda item.
(6) Identify how the process will be facilitated.
(7) Establish a way to record what is said as the conversation evolves.
(8) Clearly state or create together the intentions, norms, and “ground rules” for the conversation.
(1) Doyle, Michael, Straus, David How to Make Meetings
(2) Kaner, Sam et al Facilitator's Guide to Participatory
(3) Lencioni, Patrick Death By Meeting 2000
(4) Lipmanicz, Henri, McCandless, Keith The Surprising
Power of Liberating Structures 2013
(5) Scholtes, Peter R. et al The Team Handbook Third
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