Mastering the art of participating as a responsible member during group discussions is a crucial leadership skill. It allows us to organize and run the meeting confidently and effectively. It also helps us speak our views during the discourse.
Following are 10 guidelines that help me during discussions ensuring effective meetings:
- Respect others, especially those who are responsible for running the meeting. Remember you are sitting and discussing with future leaders!
- Keep a notebook with you and keep track of the major points discussed. It will help you get more involved in the discussion and refer to prime points used by others when needed.
- Do not interrupt when someone speaks. Raise your hand if you want to make a point and wait till the facilitator permits you to speak. Learn to overcome the tendency to interrupt and learn to wait patiently for your turn.
- Do not dominate the meeting by speaking for a long time.
- Listen carefully when someone makes a point and learn to respect their views even when you do not agree. When you differ, gently tell that you respect their viewpoint though you do not agree with what is said or you would like to look at it from another angle or perspective.
- Spend a few minutes to reflect and put your thoughts together before you speak. It will help you to communicate clearly, in an orderly manner with right and well-chosen words.
- Do not let emotions control you when you speak. If you are emotionally disturbed (angry, upset, unhappy about the proceedings), gently tell the group, ‘I feel this is not the way to go about with the discussion’ without accusing others. When you say, ‘I feel…’, you own up your emotions and speak for yourself without hurting others.
- Be inclusive, recognize discordant views, and take part in constructive dialogue to resolve them.
- Make sure that the meeting begins on time and ends on time. If someone speaks for a long time, gently remind the person to make it short.
- If anyone goes out of the topic, gently remind the person to come back to the point.
Remember, you have limited opportunities to speak in a short meeting. Make a real impact when you speak!
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