Pre-meetings key to successful meetings on contentious issues

Pre-meetings key to successful meetings on contentious issues

Practices to use during pre-meetings to ensure smoother process follows on the big day

 

When arranging pre-meetings, make sure you talk to the right people and listen careful to what they have to say. Photograph: Caiaimage/John Wildgoose

When arranging pre-meetings, make sure you talk to the right people and listen careful to what they have to say. Photograph: Caiaimage/John Wildgoose

Have you ever planned and held a meeting, confident that people would see a new project or strategy your way, only to be met with resistance or confusion? Luckily, there is a tool for avoiding this: the pre-meeting.

Pre-meetings are essential for anyone hoping to have a successful meeting about a contentious issue. Here are some best practices for pre-meetings.

1. Talk to the right people:

You’re probably not going to have time for a pre-meeting with everyone who will be at the actual meeting, but make sure that you line up people who will be directly affected by whatever decision is going to be made, as well as those who have the most political influence.

As the owner of the meeting, you need to consult with these players and have a clear understanding of their viewpoints.

2. Really listen:

Don’t be so focused on convincing people that you fail to hear what they say. Instead, really listen to their point of view, work hard to understand their interests and demonstrate that you appreciate their perspective.

They’re much more likely listen to your point of view if you’ve treated them with dignity and respect in these initial stages.

3. Don’t overlook the importance of framing:

Be sure to present contentious issues in a way that will resonate with the other person. For instance, if you’re talking to someone who’s afraid of rocking the boat, frame your new initiative as incremental and as something that has been sanctioned or endorsed by people high up in power.

– Copyright Harvard Business Review 2016

Previously published in The Irish Times.

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