You’ve been there. You’re leading a group. You’re meeting with a coworker, an employee, your boss, or maybe even your spouse. You feel like you are speaking clearly, but the crickets are chirping in the corner. You’re met with slack jaws, slightly glazed eyes – and silence.
Maybe you find yourself meeting with people to discuss action points that need to be put in motion after your meeting is done, whether as part of a project team, employee reviews or conflict resolution. And people are nodding in agreement. Perhaps you’ve fallen back on the old standby of asking people to “repeat back what I just told you,” and they did so verbatim. Then … nothing happens. Nothing changes. Yet, you’re positive they heard you. What happened?
Worse yet, maybe it’s not silence or inactivity that you’re finding to be the problem. On the contrary, you’re thinking you would welcome some silence, because it seems like too many meetings dissolve into debate, arguing, posturing, resistance, confusion or general chaos.
I’m hopeful that you will have some real “Aha!” moments during our next few minutes together. Let me also add that, while this blog is geared toward business communication, the principles and approaches we’ll discuss here apply to interpersonal communication anywhere : with students you teach; with your friends, your spouse, your kids. In short, they are “people practices” not merely “business practices.” And as such, you may find the greatest value comes in getting through to your teen son than your business associates.