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A Dangerous Mindset for Meetings

One of the most damaging things to a productive meeting is a defensive mindset. It sounds harmless, but think of all the times you spent in meetings arguing about whether something small was feasible, or about someone just not wanting to be wrong.

A defensive mindset closes the individual off to opportunities. They don’t want anything that challenges what they are being defensive about. This is a huge problem in meetings, because it can not only create a me versus them mentality, but negatively impacts anyone watching the argument happen.

If this is persistent, it’s usually a cultural thing, but sometimes it’s just one individual who just needs to know it’s okay to be wrong. Luckily, the best way to solve both is with the same techniques.

1. Normalize Mistakes

Start this off by saying that it’s okay to make mistakes and not have all the answers. We’re all human, it’s going to happen to us at some point.

2. Lead by Example

This is one you can take very literally and make a mistake or a really dumb suggestion in front of the team. Then when someone corrects you or offers a better suggestion, praise them on it. This shows what you just said above. Not just that but you are also rewarding someone for participating, encouraging more participation. All this costs a bit of ego.

3. Refocus the Conversation

If the conversation turns very defensive, try refocusing the conversation on the issue and making it objective. Provide outs for the defensive individual.

4. Encourage Feedback

These may be best taken off to the side with each individual, but it gives them an opportunity to talk about a frustration that may be causing their actions. More information will tell you what the problem is.

5. Be Patient and Understanding

Changes are unlikely to happen right away, especially depending on how long they’ve gone on for. Just keep at it, and you’ll see the changes happen.

These changes can take months to happen, but it makes all the difference when they do. That doesn’t mean to cling on to trouble makers, but if there are a lot of trouble makers, it might not be just them. Look deeper.

We hope this leads to more productive meetings as one of the core benefits of meetings is collaboration.

Here’s to better meetings.

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