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In a meeting

In healthcare we work closely with a wide range of colleagues, and maintaining professional dialogue is important.

Communication – both verbal and non-verbal – are key to ensuring smooth transactions.

Meetings provide a particular communication challenge as they are essentially public forums and small negative interactions can have a march larger effect on an individual than you might expect.  Some of the challenges include:

  • Ensuring all members have a chance to speak and feel heard
  • Ensuring all attendees feel their input is valuable
  • Preventing dominant characters from being too dominant, without belittling/undermining
  • Receiving and feeding back on inputs that may not be useful, without belittling/undermining
  • The presence of outside influences such as time pressure, not having eaten and multiple demands on your attention at one time

It is always important to acknowledge the contribution and perspectives of others.

Welcoming a range of ideas and opinions fosters diversity and inclusion.

Some tips (particularly for meetings you are chairing):

  • Know who is in your meeting by name, and background if you can
  • Be an active listener and hear what team members are saying.  ‘Thanks for that idea…’, ‘that is an interesting idea…’, ‘by that do you mean…’
  • You can demonstrate you have heard what members of the meeting have contributed by summarising matters back to the group
  • Thank members for their contributions
  • Invite silent participants to comment
  • Use positive body language such as nodding and maintaining eye contact
  • Avoid immediately rejecting an idea e.g. ‘That is an interesting idea. My concern with that approach at the moment would be...Perhaps we can hold onto that as an idea for now and come back to it as it may evolve.’
  • Avoid talking over people
  • Actively avoid inadvertent signs of frustration or disagreement such as sitting back and crossing your arms, sighing and eye rolling
  • Move the meeting forward in a positive way such as ‘thank you for your ideas on this matter. In the interest of time I am going to move us onto the next item for discussion.’
  • Finish by thanking people for their time

If you would like to improve your own conduct in meetings then asking for feedback from your colleagues can be useful.