Mugs that Limit or Enlighten Meetings

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Who’d  guess that mere facial expressions at a meeting can limit or enhance everybody’s takeaway.  We saw it in action last night at the State of the Union Address, where some participants grimaced at most of the President’s speech, and refused to participate in anything but naysaying, and cynicism.

See innovative meetings e-handbook here for dozens of practical strategies that bring meetings alive where you work.

The purpose of this blog is not to cast blame on either party, but to look at both sides in terms of the lost tone skills and toxic workplaces in our country.

How so?

Tone is the body language of communication at any meeting, with skills vital to help people disagree with dignity. Serotonin rises with positive tone – to help people build goodwill even among those who differ.  Grimaces and cynicism increase cortisol and prevent learning from following on the heels of opposing views expressed at the best meetings.

Would you agree though, that good communication escapes too many modern meetings?

When research and tone skills work together to benefit meetings:

Disagreement becomes art when it draws together differences to help people  find common ground in controversial issues. Check out tone tips to disagree at your next meeting. In contrast, see subtle barbs from dissenters who  lack tools to disagree.

Tone takes different shapes in different settings, and yet can lead to growth or devastation in meetings. With digital sessions increasing, for instance,  online tone is also critical for building high performance climates. Survey your tone skills to see if you work in an organization that disagrees well, and cultivates healthy communication across differences.

Opposing views appear impossible at some meetings. Or can you trace tone problems to the root of  organizational failures?  Einstein put it this way … “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.  Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

It doesn’t need to be that way.

Here are a few tone tips for disagreeing in ways that build goodwill at meetings.


1. Affirm another person’s thoughts before sharing your views on the other side – to show that you really heard, sorted, and valued them. (notice I did not say agree with them)

2. Thank people for different ideas presented and show how you’ve tried or considered them further. Toss your own ideas into the ring to show and explain differences you see.

3. Share personal experiences respectfully as another angle to think about together – rather than as a need to replace the original ideas that were presented. Remember you are looking to stir and learn from diverse sides of the issue.

4. Ask two footed questions… rather than offer your own opinion too quickly. . For instance…  Have you thought about…? What if…? Could another possibility be …?

5. Add unique ideas to the mix – to inspire with confidence – more as part of a good discussion – than a need to top the original points. Make sure you support your best ideas with concrete examples to help people see possibilities presented.

Congratulations, you have just used differences to segue into a broader vision for your workplace – one that draws in multiple talents.

See further tone tips for meetings that value and learn from others’ ideas in ways that engage diverse views – and even disagree with some. What mugshot will you bring to the next meeting?

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One thought on “Mugs that Limit or Enlighten Meetings

  1. Pingback: 10 Ways to Mine Innovation at Meetings – Brain Leaders and Learners

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