Coordinate boring meetings: 3 typical situations and their solution


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A weak point of many meetings is the moderation. Because the moderator often does not know what he wants. But what can you do about it?

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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If the Chef poorly moderated

You may know that: You are in a meeting and colleague X has way too much speechzeit. For example, because the moderator lets individual participants talk for far too long or is overwhelmed by an increasingly heated discussion.

And the bad thing: you can not even say anything against it, because often the moderator is the boss. But: With questions and suggestions you can act indirectly - and save the meeting. What helps? Just moderate with. But indirectly, because the moderator should not lose face.

Constructive demand as a means of choice

The method of choice: constructive inquiries. Because that way, the moderator doesn't lose face. Equalzeitig you seem like a particularly committed participant yourself.

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In addition, questioning techniques are first directed by you so that you do not have to defend your arguments. They then help to find solutions in the group in a joint and constructive way without anybody being attacked. Questions are therefore the optimal technique for a successful meeting.

3 typical problems in meetings

The situations in which the questions can be asked are, of course, very different, but if you look closely, it turns out that the following three schemes are typical for meetings and can almost always be applied:

Prooblem 1: Direct attack

Another participant attacks an idea or a contribution by setting up a counter thesis, eg "That sounds nice, but we have had different experiences with it." Now there is a statement against a statement. The trick: Just ask if the situation has been described correctly. That is how it goes:

  1. Please clarify if the information is too vague: “Who is special?” "How exactly?" "All?" "How many percent?" etc.
  2. Please ask for additional information if you want to know a little more: "Who else was involved?" "Who was affected?" "Who was responsible?" "What happened?" “Would you like to report how it was?”
  3. Compare the new information of a conversation partner with known information to get a clearer picture: “In comparison to what?”
  4. Distract yourself with a question of understanding in a rhetorical manner and let the other explain: “Did I understand you correctly, you say that…”

Problem 2: Attention whiners!

One participant assesses the consequences of your proposal much more negatively than yourself, for example: "That sounds nice, but I think that this will significantly reduce productivity."

Now you should find out whether the action actually leads to the supposed consequences or whether others are to be expected. That is how it goes:

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  1. Ask all participants to think about the possible consequences: "Have we considered all the consequences?" "What else can come of it?" "Are there alternatives?" "Did we forget something?"
  2. Exceed possible consequences: "What can happen in the worst case if we choose this option?" In doing so, they make it clear that it cannot be that bad and that the clairvoyants have hopelessly exaggerated.
  3. Ask for a reason: "Why is this solution the best?" “Why is option 1 preferable to option 2?” "What reasons do we have to reject this idea?"
  4. Consciously ask this question to everyone, including yourself. You are making it clear that you are also thinking. If you only ask this question to other participants, they come from the "why?" into a compulsion to justify - and that creates resistance. Deliberately lead the others to a dead end in order to make the absurdity of the fears clear: "What do we have to do to keep the problem alive?" "What can happen if we still don't solve the problem?" You also make it clear that it is better to act than to remain inactive - and have the laughs on your side.

Problem 3: The generality is right

A participant attacks your remarks by referring to a generally accepted consensus: "That is nice, but we all know that it is far too idealistic: Nobody works more than he absolutely has to."

The trick is simple: the majority is not mistaken; something that everyone knows is irrefutable. If you do, there is something wrong with you (at least you feel like that), so you have little chance of justifying your opinion. But is general opinion correct at all? Encourage the other participants to reflect:

  1. Find out why a position is important to someone: "What is particularly important to you?" “What is the focus here for you here?”
  2. Then ask how someone got their point of view: "What made you see the situation this way?"
  3. Break the general perspective down to individual cases by differentiating: "This applies to this case, but does it also apply to ...?", "Did this act fit there - but how is it in this context?"
  4. Invite the other participants to change their perspective: "If we look at it from the customer's perspective: How would he see it?" "How do you think our boss would react?"

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