Another day filled with back to back meetings, no breaks in sight. With all those meetings, your productivity must be through the roof, right? Or are you among the vast majority of professionals who believe that there are too many meetings and very little actually gets accomplished in them?
The most common meeting complaints we hear from our clients at the Institute for Mindful Leadership are:
a) no one is listening, they are all on their laptops or phones,
b) the same minority of people monopolize the meetings,
c) people often talk over one another which feels disrespectful,
d) too many people are in the meeting because the culture has trust or communication issues, and
e) in an effort to make everyone happy, the decisions sink to the lowest common denominator which is often not the best solution.
If any of those characterizations feel familiar, a few mindful meeting steps can really make a difference. Try them out with the next meeting you lead and see what happens.
Mindful Meeting Steps (these work best for up to 10 people in a one hour meeting but you can modify the steps to fit the specifics of each group once you get used to them):
Send the topics out in advance with a friendly note stating that you invite everyone to come to the meeting with their best thoughts and ideas.
Ask everyone to close their laptops and put away their phones for the duration of the meeting…no glancing at them during the meeting.
Begin the meeting with a minute or two of quiet to let everyone “catch their breath” and bring their attention to this topic.
Use 2 minute monologues-go around the table and give each person 2 minutes, uninterrupted, to share their thoughts-no questions or judgments during the monologues. When one person is done, move on to the next person. When everyone has had a chance to share their monologue, the group can begin to ask questions and discuss.
10 minutes before the end of a meeting, invite everyone to pause and reflect on the following questions: what did I hear?, what questions/thoughts do I still have? Invite brief final comments and questions, if any.
End with a summary of the decisions and/or next steps.
These steps invite all to participate in a way that is respectful and open. It levels the playing field and gives each person the time to speak without worrying about who is going to interrupt. Try it for yourself, what do you notice?