Sunday, April 11, 2010

Acknowledge the Elephant in the Room

Here we go again another Monday morning meeting. It is a difficult meeting to attend because it is a time waster - unproductive and boring. This week's agenda has the same items as last week's and again nothing is resolved. The only difference in this week's meeting, is you decide to mention how dissatisfied you are with the meetings. After a long dead silence, you finally decide to speak on the purpose of the meetings and give suggestions on how they can be more productive. To your surprise, everyone agrees, and a discussion ensues on how the meetings can become more productive! Finally, the elephant is acknowledged.

The ability to speak openly in a meeting is a part of being a professional and a leader. Leadership involves being able to tell others what is right as well as what is wrong and knowing that there may be some resistance, but this is how you feel and your opinions need to be expressed. Here are a few tips on how to acknowledge the elephant in the room and feel better that you did:

1. Abandon fear.

Fear is the biggest obstacle because when we are afraid we are restricted and we limit ourselves. How many times have you been in a meeting and had a suggested but was afraid to express it because of what others might think? Then someone else did and everyone thought it was the best idea next to sliced bread. The most effective way to get over fear is to face it – head on!

2. Voice the facts.

When making comments or suggestions as the result of some negative behavior be able to back up what you're saying. For example, if you are talking about the organization of the meeting or its purpose, reference meeting materials or if this is a meeting that involves a specific group and there are written rules and regulations such as bylaws, make reference to them so that everyone understands the source of your concerns.

3. Practice.

If you know you want to make a suggestion, practice how you are going to say it. Be mindful of your tone and speak clearly and concise. Choose your words carefully and use tact.

5. Don't place blame or make accusations.

Pointing fingers or making accusations at certain individuals will discredit your comments and others will look at you as a complainer. Don't make references to people. Stay focused on your issues and concerns.

Don't be afraid to acknowledge the elephant in the room; voice your opinions or suggestions, but always be professional. People will respect you and value you as a contributor to the meeting.