It's time to reframe our meeting mindsets

It's time to reframe our meeting mindsets

When our default meeting frame is that ideas and recommendations are confrontations, we stall before we start. We may reach our outcomes from this starting point, but getting there is significantly more painful and time-consuming.

You may experience one or more of the following things before a meeting:

1. Certain areas, maybe even words, define my territory. When others use these words, I am triggered, become reflexively defensive, and create an issue that didn't exist before.

2. Some people hijack our meetings, not allowing me or others with something to say, enough room to get a word in edgewise.

3. I am passionate and believe something worth believing is worth fighting for, so I show up ready for battle.

4. Logically, I understand that others don't share my standards and expectations, but I think we will all be better off once they see things my way.

5. The CEO assigned me this task, didn't explain it to my peers, and left it to me to handle in our weekly leadership meeting. Once they know it is the boss's idea, everyone will appreciate my effort and get behind it.

How do we set everybody up for success?

1. Check your motives and your ego. Let go of the need to be correct and demonstrate your smarts. Embrace ideas openly and respectfully and ask questions for clarity.

2. Be intentional. Set the ground rules up front that everyone must follow. Make it everyone's responsibility to monitor safety and call it out when it departs. Then, step back as a group and take the time to restore safety before continuing the discussion.

3. Ask questions before declaring a position. There is a saying that nothing kills a great question like an answer, so explore other points of view instead of doubling down on the one you brought to the party.

4. Begin valuing constructive confrontation that strengthens the team rather than avoiding it due to discomfort. If you don't believe it's worth the risk, please understand that your team can forgive bad decisions, not indecision. You have a role to fulfill for them, sometimes requiring finding your voice and pushing through discomfort.

Some questions that will set you up for meeting success:

1. What mindset helps me be supportive, respectful, and curious?

2. What physical cues alert me to entering fighting mode? Does my gut hurt, my face become flushed, my hands tremble, my forehead veins bulge, or beads of sweat break out? Figure it out and use it as a signal to pause, reflect, and breathe before speaking.

3. What do we want to accomplish by the end of this meeting? It's rarely being right, losing our composure, starting an apology tour, or slinking back to our office in embarrassment or shame.

4. If you have a point of view, read the room. Is this the right time, audience, and content to share? Does your input add value to the discussion and move the group toward a better outcome? Are you sure?

5. If you have trigger words, what are they? Write them on a sticky note and be alert for the physical cues that indicate your dinosaur brain is about to prepare for an attack.

6. Reasonable, rational, and prudent people sometimes have moments when their emotions take over. I know I do. How can I stay grounded in my intention and the moment to respond with grace and clarity if emotions crowd out respectful discussion?

7. What question can I ask to stay curious longer than I may be comfortable with? One candidate: What's going on here that has nothing to do with me that I don't understand yet?

We are spending an unhealthy amount of time in meetings. The gift we can give ourselves and our teams is to show up with an intention to contribute and mindset that moves us toward an outcome that matters to us.