A meeting of like minds?

I’ve often sat in on meetings where the manager has stated that he would like a frank and open discussion about the topic of the meeting. I have heard managers say, “I would like to know what you really think about this”. Do you think the ensuing discussions could be described as frank and open? Not really. A more accurate description would be guarded and limited. Honest and open communications are often cited by members of workgroups when they are compiling a list of desired values to govern their way of working together. But bring those people together in a meeting and this desired value is often missing in action. In an idyllic world, people may be open and honest, but in the imperfect world we live in it is a hard ask that people express themselves openly and honestly. Here are some of the many reasons (in people’s minds, conscious or sub-conscious) why we don’t express ourselves openly and honestly in meetings. If I really say what I think, I’ll just be seen as negative and obstructing. I haven’t really got a clue about this. But I’ll keep that to myself. I think I’ll just wait and see where this is going before I commit myself one way or the other. I know what is going to put me in the boss’s good books. I’ll say what I know he/she wants to hear. I have no interest in this debate. The decision won’t change anything I do. It won’t be followed through properly and then it will just disappear. I’m not going to embarrass myself in front of the others. If I say what I really think, the boss will just attack my views, so why bother? It’s obvious what the company policy is here so if I speak against it I’ll suffer later. I won’t say what I really think, but I will say something that makes me look good. The decision’s been made. We’re just going through the motions here. I have no strong view either way, but I am happy to go along with whatever the group decides. My gut feeling tells me that it is a dumb idea, but I’m not going to oppose it because I haven’t really thought it through. If I try and explain why I don’t like it, I’ll look stupid. No one wants to hear the truth. If I truly say what’s on my mind, it will only upset others and I don’t want to put up with the tension that creates. I know from past experience that if you contradict the boss, he doesn’t like it. He doesn’t handle people challenging his point of view very well. I don’t know whether this will work or not. I am 100 per cent for it, but if I support this too enthusiastically and it doesn’t work too well, that may be held against me. I’ll try and think of something to say that sounds intelligent. If I’m asked to comment, I’ll just reinforce what seems to be the popular sentiment. I haven’t prepared myself for this discussion so I will just formulate some seemingly intelligent questions. I’ve got opinions on this, but I don’t really know the facts. I’m not going to show my ignorance in front of others. The last time I spoke my real thoughts it was assumed that I was unwilling to go along with the proposal, but I didn’t get the chance to explain myself fully. My comments were brought up later out of context and used against me. I’ll keep my real thoughts to myself. If you want to increase the degree of openness and honesty in your meetings, copy and discuss this article with your group at your next meeting. Are you up for it? From the international best-selling books, ‘You Lead, They’ll Follow. How to inspire, lead and manage people. Really.’ Volumes 1, 2 and 3 by Daniel Kehoe published by McGraw Hill. for on-line orders. Daniel Kehoe provides a range of innovative tools for leadership, people management and business improvement to small, medium and large organizations including the You Lead, They’ll Follow Experience® and Systematic-Innovation® - one of the best ideas management systems on the planet. See T 08 9477 1135 E

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