Why People Don’t Speak Up in Virtual Meetings
In too many organizations, according to the author’s research, people in the decision-making chain fail to speak up and offer potentially valuable input and insights during critical situations. This can result in bad decisions being made and bad behavior going unchecked. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in virtual meetings. The article's author provides several tips on how to create candor in both those and in-person meetings.

Number one, demonstrate trustworthiness. The reason virtual meetings, in particular, have become breeding grounds of mistrust is that a lack of physical contact starves attendees of information about each another. Even the smallest gestures can fill the void of information that distance creates, he said. Two, when it comes time to raise a potentially sensitive issue in a meeting, make it a policy to ask for permission first. One might say something like: "I have an issue to address. It's pretty sensitive, but pretty important. May I proceed?" Three, when you are concerned about others possibly misunderstanding your intentions, inoculate them against their misinterpretation by calling it out. For instance, the participant can say, "Mr. Smith, I have heard a rumor I want to address that pertains to you. I don't want to put you on the spot or disrespect you in any way. But I also want to be loyal to the mission we've been given, and I believe you do, too." Four, an attendee should lay out the factual basis for his or her concerns, editing out any accusatory language and pausing from time to time to underscore and confirm facts. Five, share what you have concluded from these facts, but do so in a way that leaves room for group discussion. According to the article's author, "these suggestions don't guarantee that a virtual conversation will go well, but they significantly increase the likelihood."
Harvard Business Review (03/14/17) Grenny, Joseph
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