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Conducting Effective Meetings Using Conversational Leadership Guidelines

Conducting Effective Meetings Using Conversational Leadership Guidelines

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Ray Jorgensen, Ph.D shares his view on how using disciplined conversations can lead to more effective meetings.
Ray Jorgensen, Ph.D shares his view on how using disciplined conversations can lead to more effective meetings.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Raymond D. Jorgensen, Ph.D on Apr 02, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Conducting Effective Meetings Using Conversational LeadershipGuidelines
Adults construct understanding through conversation, yet our meeting agendasrarely provide time for any conversation at all. The really useful discussion occursafter the meeting has been gaveled to an end, as stimulated minds seek to makesense of what they've just heard. Insights, alternatives and solutions are morelikely to arise in the parking lot after the meeting if participants have not had anopportunity to engage in conversation about the issues during the meeting proper.An effective leader who seeks to chair a truly meaningful meeting in which actualchange and progress occur will want to enhance the capacity for effective interac-tion among the participants. After all, if there is nothing to be gained from their at-tendance, why are they even at this meeting? Currently what happens at mostmeetings denigrates the purpose of gathering busy professionals around the table.
If the leader believes that this committee or other group has something tooffer in the change process, then he or she will want to learn to use thesefive (5) guidelines for a
'Learning Conversation'
, which were originally givento me by Sue Miller-Hurst. These guidelines are part of what I call
Conversa-tional Leadership
Listen for understanding
Speak from the heart
Suspend judgment
Hold space for differences
Slow down the inquiry.
These guidelines, which are really disciplines to practice, not unlike healthyeating or exercise, are not learned instantly, nor are they transferred imme-diately to the meeting participants. However, each individual committed toimproved meeting outcomes can begin to practice these skills and encouragetheir growth in self and others. A good place to start would be with the lead-er.
Listen for understanding
. Listen openly, without judgment or blame, receiv-ing what others say from a place of learning rather than from a place of knowing or confirming your own position. Listen with equal respect for eachperson present, hoping to understand rather than to "fix," argue, refute orpersuade. At the same time, listen quietly to yourself as others speak.
Speak from the heart
. When sincerely moved to make a contribution, speakhonestly from your own experience. Speak into the stream of developingcommon understanding, not just to fill silence or to have your positionheard.
Suspend judgment
. Hold at bay your certainties and assumptions. Suspendany need to be right or have the correct answer. In fact, try to suspend anycertainty that you, yourself, are right.
Hold space for differences
. Embrace different points of view as learning op-portunities. Don't counter with "but." Instead, contribute with "and." Remainopen to outcomes that may not be your outcomes. Encourage contributionsfrom those who have remained silent.
Slow down the inquiry
. Provide silent time to digest what has just been said.Allow further conversation to flow naturally, develop and deepen. Masteringthese guidelines requires consistent practice to release the habitual ways of thinking, speaking and listening.For
conversational leadership
to succeed, participants must be truly presentand filled with intention and energy. A good way for the leader to start is topost these five basic guidelines, explain each briefly, and then provide op-portunities for practice. Once the group comes on board with enthusiasm,the leader might ask them to help assess the quality of the group interactionand suggest ways to improve the conversation.
Raymond D. Jorgensen, Ph.D.
has spent the past 30 years studying organiza-tions and the concept of organizational change theories and parlayed thisknowledge into the concept of Conversational Leadership, an insightful, the-ory-based method of conducting more effective meetings which taps into thecollective wisdom of a group and leads to higher quality relationships forhigher quality results. Ray consults, facilitates and conducts workshops fororganizations on Conversational Leadership, with a proven track record of af-

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