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  • Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
    Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
  • Are you getting the best out of your people?
    Are you getting the best out of your people?
  • How are you coming across to your boss?
    How are you coming across to your boss?
  • Do you frequently get into arguments?
    Do you frequently get into arguments?
  • Are your conversations achieving what you want?
    Are your conversations achieving what you want?
  • Does your feedback help people change?
    Does your feedback help people change?

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.

Free exploratory coaching session

INTERESTED?

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. All you need do to prepare for this session is think about the kinds of situations you want to be able to handle more successfully.

FAQs

You'll find answers to many of your questions about the content and method of this course under FAQs (in the main menu above).

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.

Comment

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.

Yet 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.

Is there more information on this website
relevant to chairing and taking part in meetings?

Yes. You might also find our pages on managing change, teamwork and skills with people relevant and helpful.

We love helping you communicate successfully

By giving you communication skills that'll transform even your most challenging relationships and interactions.

That's the purpose of Skills with People, our training course for managers and professional people at all levels. Thousands have benefited from this course.

Video Introduction

What People Have Said About The Course

Feedback from participant's boss - a Prudential director

He is a lot more confident. At the last meeting of our business unit leaders he fully led the meeting and dealt with people very well.

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EHS advisor (environmental health and safety), Johnson Matthey

This is the best non-techincal course the company has ever put me on because it's the most useful. 

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Senior Resource Consultant, Shell International

“Skills with People” has helped me deal with conflict situations.  It has helped me to diffuse tension in meetings and convert pushback into alignment ...

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Fundraising Officer, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

A very intimate training which will make anyone reflect on how best to engage with colleagues when confronted with difficult situations.

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Feedback from participant's boss - head of projects in Heinz

He now gains support through his willingness to involve people more and take them with him.

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Golf Club Manager

Ten out of ten for the course for me personally. I think I would have resigned if it hadn't been for the course.

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson marketing director

She has become increasingly aware and focussed on ensuring she is gaining cooperation from colleagues by the way she approaches situations. E.g., Meet ...

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Project Quality Engineer (self funding)

A lesson for life! The power of effective communication is incredible when one masters the skills "listen with empathy" / "speak assertively". Defin ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson & Johnson finance director

He has made excellent progress in the management of his team. He has ensured key stakeholders are involved in decision-making and has gone to great le ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - Chairman of White Clarke Group

He has greatly improved his ability to manage a situation. He listens more and uses that information to convince. A good example is the .... group, wh ...

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Senior Engineer, Qualcomm

An unbelievable experience, highly motivating training and one of the few which stays forever in your mind. A tangible impact to your life and workin ...

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Workshop Manager, Professional Plant Services

I now find it easier to have awkward conversations. (As a result of how he has changed several more people from his company are asking to attend the c ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Merck Sharp & Dohme medical director

She feels more confident in tackling people and has been impressed with her new found techniques, e.g., in dealing with members of the marketing depar ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Johnson Matthey Catalysts (Germany) senior manager

There has been a noticeable improvement in the performance of this customer service engineer. He is much more succinct now than he was before. He was ...

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Sports Centre Manager

I feel that my relationship with other attendees has improved massively following the session. I'd say 9/10 for what I've got from the course as I sa ...

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Theatre Manager

Managing to confront them but still maintain their cooperation and support. Previously I was either not confronting or confronting and ending up with ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Shell International senior manager

He is showing far more self-awareness and more restraint in potentially confrontational situations. He is far more aware of the impact his actions and ...

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National Training Index* report on the course

"From delegates reports we have identified Skills with People is a 'highspot' among UK business courses. Delegates mentioned as most helpful the enha ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - A Philips Semiconductors director

To what extend do I think his training need has been satisfied? Completely. I have been approached by 4 peers to tell me that they could see a very po ...

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a Glaxo SmithKline research director

He has made good progress in two areas: 1. team leadership - he listens with empathy to others well and considers their standpoint as well as his own. ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Billiton director

He's obviously making a positive effort and it does show. People used to be scared of him. No longer.

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Feedback from a participant's boss - a WS Atkins director

Now he actively listens, probes, asks for clarifications and does not assume anymore he knows the answer.

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Thank you from a participant

I wanted to let you know that I have secured a new role.  I had to go through an assessment centre and one challenge was to negotiate with a 'belliger ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - a Kimberley-Clark marketing director

He is now aware of his need to control his direct approach. He was sometimes too assertive. I think he is now well balanced in this respect.

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Learning & Development Coordinator - The Entertainer

I can't recommend this course enough. It has genuinely been the most impactful course I have ever completed. Understanding that I can be assertive w ...

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The wife of a participant

"Just thinking about last night’s conversation and it’s bringing tears to my eyes – it’s what I’ve always wanted: to be able to talk with you like tha ...

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Feedback from participant's boss - an HSBC investment director

I have had three unprompted comments from different team members and colleagues who have been surprised at the consideration he has shown in helping s ...

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Leisure Centre Manager

The most useful part of the course was learning how to convey my disappointment with a member of staff without demotivating them, without making them ...

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Examples of Training Needs Met

Respected specialist who was too quiet at meetings Read More...
Lots of energy and ideas but little attention for his clients Read More...
Allowed his meetings to get out of hand Read More...
Well intentioned but demoralising his team Read More...
Preparing for a more challenging role Read More...
Enormous enthusiasm but little sensitivity Read More...
Being more assertive would help career go better Read More...
Had a positive attitude but gave a negative impression Read More...
Not delegating or developing others Read More...
Flying high but creating a tense atmosphere Read More...
Very logical but not creating enough rapport Read More...
Forceful communicator who created friction Read More...
Difficulty communicating with non-technical people Read More...
Technically very sound but lacking persuasive skills Read More...
Very diligent but hated dealing with difficult people Read More...

Need To Know The Quick Facts?