Our response to COVID-19: Online Coaching
During this time of the coronavirus (Covid-19) worldwide pandemic we’re obviously not easily able to deliver our courses in the traditional way in groups because of travel and social distancing restrictions, however all our training can be delivered online through video conferencing, or over the phone.
Might you discover how to chair and take part more successfully in meetings on this London based management training course called Skills with People?
Yes if any of the the following are true for you
- You want others to take you more seriously in meetings.
- In the meetings you chair you'd like to know how to get people to accept new ideas and change more readily.
- You want to be more successful at persuading people to your point of view in meetings.
- You want to be better at changing their minds about ideas they're strongly attached to.
- You want to cooperate better with others in problem-solving and decision-making in the meetings you're taking part in.
- You want to know how to resolve a disagreement or conflict and negotiate a win-win agreement in meetings.
What you'll take away from this course in chairing and taking part in meetings
You'll have the understanding, skills and confidence to be more successful when you're chairing or taking part in meetings. To help you develop we'll teach you a set of very powerful crucial skills and give you lots of practice, feedback and coaching in using them.
How the skills you'll practise on this course will make you much more successful in meetings
Below are three examples of ways in which the skills you'll practise on this course will enable you to achieve what you want in meetings.
1. How to get people’s attention in a meeting
The assertive way of getting attention is to say, loud enough to be heard, “I want to make a point. What worries (alarms/concerns) me is … The reason why I’m so worried about it is …”, followed by a pause. Few words – powerful effect. What you're stating is not an opinion but a fact. No one can argue with you, because you're the one person qualified to say it. You can say it quietly but confidently and firmly because you really mean it. Of course, you need to be clear in your own mind exactly what your concern is and why you're concerned.
The other way is to use empathy. Say, loud enough to be heard, “I get the impression that what worries (alarms/concerns) you is … and the reason why it worries you is …”, followed by a pause allowing them to respond. This will help your colleagues focus their minds on the main issue they are discussing. It also gets their attention – they're then likely to be interested in what you think about it.
Assertiveness and empathy are the two core skills we all need for handling successul interactions. Once you've mastered them you'll find them extremely useful in meetings, whether you're running the meetings or just taking part.
2. Criticising someone's idea in a meeting
When someone gives birth to an idea they're naturally attached to it. It's their ‘baby’. When they feel it's being attacked they react as though they themselves are being attacked. So if you need to challenge them you'd better do it in a supportive way. Otherwise not only will you find yourself in bitter argument, but also you'll fail to influence them.
The trouble is, if you point out the weakness of an idea but say nothing of its strengths you give the impression you can't think of anything good to say about it. You probably don't mean to imply it's useless. It’s just that because you're worried about one of its weaknesses, that’s what you want to talk about. But the person hearing you inevitably draws the wrong conclusion. All he hears is your disapproval, and feeling disapproved of is one of those bad feelings that close people’s minds.
The remedy is simple and obvious – and not difficult – though it does require some effort. If you want an open-minded response when challenging someone’s idea in a meeting you'd better start by showing your appreciation – and the appreciation had better not be half-hearted. Then, instead of reacting defensively to what sounds like an attack, he'll feel genuinely approved of and be able to hear your concern with an open mind.
Example of an unsuccessful way to criticise someone's idea in a meeting
A marketing manager is talking to his colleague, the sales manager, about a new piece of work his department has produced. What we're looking at here is how the sales manager handles the conversation:-
MKTG MGR: You’ll be pleased to hear we’ve completed the new product brief. We’re very proud of it. It’s based on months of careful research and answers all of the questions and objections customers are raising. Once the sales force is trained to use it the way it’s been designed to be used we calculate it will significantly improve our sales figures. We’re ready to start the training now.
SALES MGR: I’m totally against forcing all the sales people into a one-size-fits-all straightjacket. It de-skills them – ruins them as salesmen.
Imagine you're the marketing manager. What effect has the sales manager’s response had on you? Your blood pressure has probably gone through the roof and you feel ready to fight to the death to protect your ‘baby’. What do you imagine the sales manager thinks of your work, on a scale from Zero (totally useless) to 100 (incredibly valuable)? You probably imagine he thinks it's pretty useless, and that of course greatly diminishes your respect for him and his ideas. So you dismiss what he says with contempt:-
MKTG: I see. You say this after we’ve spent hundreds of thousands developing the best product brief we’ve ever had. The trouble with you sales people is you’re totally stick-in-the-mud!
SALES: The trouble with you marketing people is you live in cloud cuckoo land!
Not, perhaps, the most successful approach! They end in bitter deadlock.
Example of a successful way to criticise someone's idea in a meeting
But let's see how the sales manager might have achieved a better result with the approach below. Even though he (the sales manager) is being quite tough the marketing manager remains open to persuasion because he never feels attacked:-
SALES (starts with convincing praise) I’ve studied the brief carefully and I’m very impressed with the work that’s gone into it. I particularly like the thorough way you’ve analysed and answered all customers’ questions and concerns. I believe the sales force will find this extremely helpful.
MKTG (surprised, pleased but a little sceptical): Are you sure you’re feeling okay? I’ve never heard you be so complimentary before!
SALES: I mean it, though.
MKTG (his doubt about the sales manager’s sincerity set at rest): Thanks.
SALES (assertive) I do have a major worry.
MKTG: Which is?
SALES: If you put it over to the sales force as a rigid one-size-fits-all straightjacket they will be de-skilled and demotivated by it. The problem is the way it tries to take control of the sales interview.
MKTG: Yes, but surely if they follow the method we suggest they’ll get far better results.
SALES (assertive): Now I’m even more worried because you’re not taking me seriously. We’ve had this problem before. I don’t want to lose any more of my best sales people.
MKTG: What are you suggesting, then?
SALES: A more flexible approach to the sales interview itself, allowing the salesman more room for skill and discretion.
MKTG: Okay. Could you spare some time to help us modify that section of the brief?
SALES: I’d be glad to.
This is obviously a much more successful approach. The genuine appreciation he received from the sales manager enabled the marketing manager to listen to the sales manager's concern with an open mind.
Summary of how to criticise someone’s idea
This approach works as well in a meeting as it does one-to-one:-
- Always start with generous praise. There are two ways of doing this – either or both can be used - one is to say specifically what you like about the idea and why you like it. The second is to show (with empathy) your understanding of the thinking, feelings and intention behind it.
- Then speak assertively about your concern. Say specifically what you don’t like about his idea and why you don’t like it.
- Don’t forget to pause for his response, after both the praise and the criticism.
3. Responding to a negative question or comment in a meeting
Imagine you're introducing a change in working methods to your team, and one of them says:-
- “Whose stupid idea is it to make this change, anyway?”
The person who asked this question obviously feels bad. But instead of being aware of it and admitting it, his feelings erupt in the form of an aggressive question. He sounds very negative, and your heart sinks because he is threatening to create a bad atmosphere in the meeting. But actually, even though he sometimes expresses himself negatively, he is a highly motivated member of the team. Behind his aggressive question is a genuine concern. Here are some of the possible responses you might make. Which do you prefer?
A: Please try to be more positive. That kind of negative comment won’t get us anywhere.
B: Why do you feel so bad about the change?
C: You obviously feel bad about the change. I imagine it’s because you need to be convinced there’s a good reason for it before agreeing go along with it.
Response A makes him feel badly misunderstood and put down – an insult he will need time to recover from. The others learn from this that they had better keep quiet or they may get similar treatment. The atmosphere in the meeting goes downhill fast. Everyone feels bad. The mood of the meeting goes against you and against the change you need them to agree to. Response B is better because it accepts his aggression without judgement and encourages him to say more about what is bothering him. It's therefore more encouraging to the rest of the group. But it's response C that reaches out to him in a generous and energetic way and makes him feel respected and understood. It creates a very good atmosphere in the meeting.
What effect does this empathic response have on others in the meeting? The others now feel encouraged to speak up frankly about their concerns. The atmosphere in the meeting rapidly improves. Everyone feels good. Their mood is now for you and for the change you want them to agree to. Their confidence in you has been given an enormous boost. Listening with empathy is one of the main things you'll learn and practise on the Skills with People course.
More reasons why you might benefit from this training in how to chair and take part successfully in meetings
- When I'm leading, running or chairing meetings I like to allow members to speak up when they've something to say, but the trouble is the meetings sometimes get out of control. I'd like to know if there's an effective way of keeping control while allowing members to contribute freely.
- I've never had any meeting skills training. It's just something you pick up as you go along. It would be helpful to be given feedback about how I come across when I'm running meetings, and what effect I have on others in the meeting.
- I need to know how to make my meetings more creative, to get more imaginative contributions from people.
- I need to make the meetings I run more productive and more fun. The trouble is my team are often rather subdued. I don't know how to breathe new life into them.
- People are not really interested in what I think in meetings I attend. Many of them know far more about the subject being discussed than I do. So I keep quiet. I don't want to look a fool.
- I don't know how to handle a disagreement in our meetings. Disagreements usually end up as arguments - even as shouting matches. So they get nowhere. There has to be a better way, but I haven't found it yet.
- I don't know how to handle criticism or hostile questions in a meeting. I usually become defensive, but I don't feel I'm making a very good impression when I do and it doesn't seem to improve the atmosphere.
- Some peope have a quiet but powerful way of getting and holding people's attention in a meeting. I would like to be able to do this.
Interested? Arrange a FREE exploratory coaching session
If so, you can have a FREE exploratory coaching session. It'll give you a foretaste of what you can get from the course. You make no commitment to proceed beyond this until you're sure this training is relevant to your own particular need.
How to accept this offer
Simply contact us for a preliminary chat and to arrange your free exploratory coaching session.
What this session will do for you
In this session we'll aim to give you something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work.
Price, dates and location of our upcoming public courses
For details of our upcoming public courses see course dates.