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Silence can be golden in team meetings
Silence can be golden in team meetings

Harnessing the unexpected power of silence

It’s long been said that communication is key to success – but effective leaders must also embrace the power of the pause. MIKE KOTSIS discusses why it’s so important for those in management positions to let others speak.

Too much silence in a business meeting is a red flag. It means that people aren’t speaking up, for a number of reasons.

However, if just one person is talking all of the time, then the business has essentially the same problem.

Business leaders naturally take risks when making decisions quickly; they think aloud and love to brainstorm.

If that describes you, silence in a meeting can be excruciating – but it can also be good for business.

Too much silence indicates a lack of team health; when staff aren’t happy, this negative environment causes an unwillingness to be open and honest in the moment. Trust is the greatest predictor of a team’s success and staff will have the confidence to speak when they trust each other.

By the same token, a lack of silence from management will mean teams keep hitting the ceiling of their potential. I’ve noticed this play out within a few of my clients’ leadership teams.

The visionary in the team – the leader – is someone who is used to giving their opinion and setting the course for the meeting or project. When this happens, there isn’t space for the team to process what’s being said or even to process their own thoughts.

Any decision that comes out of that meeting is forever the leader’s idea and not the team’s.

If you really want to let go of the vine and supercharge your leadership team, then you need to be comfortable with not speaking. Allow silence to happen as your team’s most important work is being done in the spaces where nothing is said.

When you allow silent moments in a meeting, you’re also giving your staff permission to speak their minds.

It may take some time for ideas to flow but they will come. In fact, you’ll be surprised by the insights that you hear – insights that you never would have had on your own.

Nurture silence in yourself
"When you allow silent moments in a meeting, you’re also giving your staff permission to speak their minds – it may take some time for ideas to flow but they will come"

Ultimately, if others don’t speak up, you’ll never achieve your company or personal goals.

While your team is processing and sharing their thoughts, just listen. Don’t share your ideas until they are finished speaking. In fact, only after they have shared their ideas should you share any of yours.

Some of my clients need me to help them balance the level of dialogue in a group so that one person doesn’t dominate the room, trying to own and take charge of every idea and conversation.

If you are that person, it’s important to understand doing so will leave you intricately involved with things that actually keep you from investing in your unique ability – the essence of what you love to do and do best.

That is where your focus should be: on your own set of natural talents and the passion that fuels you to contribute in the ways that most motivate you.

By strengthening the areas where we have the possibility of achieving extraordinary results, we allow ourselves the greatest opportunity for success.

Knowing yourself and knowing how you personally process information can help tremendously when it comes to implementing this goal.

This happens especially when you’re trying to process something that’s unknown and matters to you – that’s when your natural instincts kick in.

In my business, we use several processes to help leadership teams identify each leader’s intuitive strengths. Everyone’s instincts are different. When you’re striving to solve a problem, most people in the room will address it from completely different directions, each driven by their instinct. If your instincts drive you more toward the ‘quick start’ mentality, this means learning to embrace the pause.

Let others speak first, even though you want to drive forward. They will need time to process the information and catch up.

To the degree that you know yourself and your team, this will help you to solve issues at a whole new level, without bogging down your staff or preventing them from working through it for themselves.

A leadership team that doesn’t have the space to process their thoughts internally isn’t leading – they’re following. And a leader who is driving all of the team’s decisions is holding onto the vine. Neither you nor your team can be truly effective without that space to think during a meeting, so shhh.

Before your next meeting, ask the facilitator to hold you accountable for creating space for the team to think and speak first.

Next, have them read this article and see what kind of brilliance emerges!

Mike Kotsis

Contributor • GPS For Small Business

Mike Kotsis is a Certified EOS Implementer, helping entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses. Learn more:

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Wednesday, 03 June, 2020 03:53am
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