Let’s Talk About Meetings – Part II of III

Part I of this narrative was shared in the April blog that stressed the relationship and value component of meetings as well as the importance of interpersonal connections. In this part, attention will be given to the structure and dynamics of meetings, including several process recommendations.

  • It is important to start meetings on time and end them on time as well. Some people will be unhappy if a meeting extends past the “set” end time. But the greater harm will occur when a meeting is adjourned prematurely simply because an end time was set. People may not want to end the meeting for all kinds of reasons, including uncertainty or anxiety regarding a lack of future direction. One option is to reschedule another meeting as quickly as possible to achieve goal closure or continue the meeting after excusing those participants who have an upcoming appointment that cannot be missed.
  • It is important to select a model for minute-taking that is practical and acceptable to the meeting participants. Avoid “he said”/ “she said” formats and be sure to distribute meeting minutes in a timely fashion.
  • Ensure that at the end of every meeting everyone knows what they should be doing. Remember, “Ambiguity is the cause of most conflict.” (Cy Wakeman)
  • Pay attention to seating arrangements and practices, discussion materials and recording devices or systems (i.e., Otter.ai) used for note-taking purposes. Take meeting breaks if necessary.
  • If formal training or mentoring in group dynamics and meeting leadership is not feasible, at least provide those involved with relevant readings or resource materials that address such issues, including videos.
  • As a chairperson works to achieve consensus, save voting for simple decisions even if the process takes longer (i.e., Should we paint the room blue or green?). Be aware that voting tends to lead to polarity, especially without adequate dialogue and process considerations.
  • As a chairperson, clearly communicate when a decision will be made by the person in charge, the CEO. This should only occur after input from the group or through group consensus.
  • While having an agenda is essential, the chairperson does not have to follow it as though reciting the “A, B, Cs.” It would be great if an agenda could be created and distributed before a meeting and still be in the order of priority on the day of the meeting, but that is rarely possible. Recognize that many unexpected things happen in between meetings. Action should be taken on those items for which there is an expectation of a decision being made. Finally, meetings should have a pace that is comfortable to the group.
  • Consistent with the above, meetings may also include a period of brainstorming. When involved in this activity, be sure to separate the generation of ideas from the process of evaluating or critiquing them. Mixing the two functions will definitely curtail creativity.
  • As a chairperson or perhaps as the boss of the individuals who are attending the meeting, do not state a conclusion if you want dialogue and discussion.
  • Remember, bad meetings can ruin a day. Always be an encourager.

Next month we offer some additional advice on having productive meetings: Part III – How to Attend a Meeting

In the meantime, does anyone use the W.M.D.W.B.W. approach?



Proverbs 1:17 (CEV)

They are like a bird that sees the bait, but ignores the trap.


Can't Not Do

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Amy Morin (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2014)

The title of this month’s recommended reading is what caused me to pick it up—13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. It was first published in 2014 by Amy Morin, a well-known practicing psychotherapist.

I was also interested in knowing the author’s definition of a mentally strong person and how I compared to the criteria. As would be expected, people vary a great deal with respect to their mental strength, especially as it relates to the role and impact of genetics, personality and our life experiences.

According to Morin, mental strength depends on our ability to regulate our emotions, manage our thoughts and behave in a positive manner despite the circumstances.

Between an introduction and a conclusion, there are 13 chapters that describe the bad habits that drag us down as we seek to live a more fulfilling life. The author put the book together as she sought to work through the profound grief she experienced as a result of the death of very close loved ones, including her mother, husband and father-in-law.

The chapter titles that follow name each of the 13 bad habits. In all likelihood, your reaction will be similar to mine. A few of the chapters will resonate with you more than others. While the book may be especially helpful to those experiencing grief and depression or higher levels of anxiety, the content is valuable to anyone interested in self-improvement.

The chapters are:

  1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
  2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
  3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
  4. They Don’t Focus on Things They Can’t Control
  5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
  6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
  7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
  8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
  9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
  10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
  11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
  12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
  13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

The goal for us in addressing the bad habits isn’t perfection but progressive betterment, to flourish, to live life fully.

Take your time in reading through the book. Don’t just skim it or you will miss some important “gems.” Pay particular attention to each of the chapters’ closing thoughts: “What’s Helpful” and “What’s Not Helpful.”

Until next time,

Art Dykstra

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