Recently, I was in a meeting where a group of us were trying to decide how to support a local charity. The meeting was a case study in “what not to do” when you want collaboration. Several things were amiss.First, the leader talked more than anyone in the group. She was asking for people’s opinions but never shut up. It seemed more like a monologue than a dialogue. Second, when someone would have a chance to speak up, she would rush them through their points. She used eye-rolling, huffing, looking at her watch, and once, she even cut the person off. Third, she would consistently disregard any suggestion or idea that went against her personal view. We were all astonished by her behavior. It didn’t appear as though she wanted collaboration; instead, she seemed to want little minions to carry out what she had already decided.
At the core of every successful conversation is a free flow of relevant information. Collaboration is a meeting when two or more people are willing to share their thoughts, feelings, theories, and opinions…freely and honestly. A good facilitator should understand this fact. Crucial Conversations calls this “adding to the pool of meaning.” Your job as the leader of the meeting is to talk the least and create a safe space for everyone in attendance to share their thoughts and experiences on a topic. The group’s IQ grows as people share and add, change and refine, question and poke, prod and communicate. When this happens, the BEST idea can soon be found and in the end, the best idea is what any organization is after.