Newsletter: Decision making, consensus building, conflict resolution and productive conversations

Tips for Earning Trust During Times of Change

True story: Ted, a mid-level HR professional for a fast-growing biopharma in my area, assumed the worst when he was ushered into a conference room, the door closing softly behind him. “I’m being laid off, aren’t I?” he asked as he scanned at the grim faces around the table. “No Ted, you’re not. But dozens of people […]

Confronting Conflict with Courage in Remote Teams

“Fine! Have it your way. Again. You always do.” “Hey, you had a chance to speak up, and you still haven’t told us why you oppose this proposal. We can’t read your mind.” “Has it occurred to you that I’m not the only one who thinks this is a bad idea? Maybe I’m the only one who’s willing to speak out.” […]

When There’s No Going Back, Decide How to Move Forward

“When the dust finally settles…” “As soon as we get back to normal…” When we hear comments like these from our wishful-thinking clients, we tell them that try as they might, there’s no going back. There’s no such thing as “normal” anymore (and we’re pretty sure there won’t ever be anything resembling a static workplace […]

To Manage Difficult Behavior in Virtual Meetings, Be Diplomatic Yet Assertive

Ever been in a virtual meeting when someone completely dominates the conversation, refusing to pause long enough for anyone else to say a word? Or when someone steers the conversation down an achingly long path that’s completely off-topic? Or when a person is so distracted that they keep asking to repeat the question? And of […]

Why Can’t Everyone Just Agree? 8 Tips for Building Consensus

The meeting room stunk of burnt coffee, half-eaten sandwiches and too many bodies compressed into a small, windowless room for too many hours. People participating via video felt that for once, being physically removed from the action was actually a blessing. After two days of dithering, this group seemed no closer to making a decision […]

How Asking for Help Beats Magical Thinking Every Time

It was just three nights before we were headed to NJ for our week-long Christmas vacation. As my daughter crept across the floor to her bed in darkness, she cried out: “Oh, no! I stepped in that wet spot again!” (“What wet spot? What does she mean, again?”) Maybe she’d spilled something? A roof leak from all […]

When Things Fall Apart, Principles Can Bring Them Back Together

My daughter Kira recently lost a client due to a lack of principles. It’s not that she didn’t have principles, and nor was her client lacking principles. It’s that they had never agreed to principles up front on a vital issue. And therein lies the rub. Here’s her story: Kira recently caught a cold from a toddler […]

For Insightful Conversations, Learn How to Ask Great Questions

Judging from the nodding heads, you see that a deep state of ennui has settled in around the table. (And this is just 15 minutes after break!) You have three hours left of this interminable day, with lots of  ground still to cover.  You know that the usual tedious process of asking everyone to take […]

Can’t We All Just Disagree? Reviving the Lost Art of Civilized Disagreement

Imagine you’re part of a group coming together to agree on a make-or-break decision. Which of these scenarios would you prefer: 1) After an amicable (and blessedly) brief conversation, everyone easily agrees to go along with the majority or 2) A heated debate ensues, with people from opposing viewpoints passionately arguing their respective positions? If […]

Wait, What?! and 4 Other Essential Questions that Expand Thinking and Spark Conversation

If anyone appreciates the value of asking really great questions, it’s a facilitator. After all, my job is to stimulate thought, encourage reflection, generate conversation, and help people make important connections. To do this, I need at least a few essential questions to insert into the conversation at just the right time. Crafting these “perfect” […]

Make Better Decisions with Less Pain, Virtually

People across the organization are counting on your team to meet an absurd deadline that you reluctantly agreed to. It’s become apparent over the last day or two that you made a promise that you simply cannot keep. You’ve called an all-hands meeting with your virtual  team to make a critical decision: Do you let […]

Why Conversations Sometimes Feel Impossible and How to Bring Them Back

The kids in our high school were shattered when news spread last month that a popular senior took his own life.  Everyday life for these kids screeched to a halt as they struggled to process how such a tragedy could have happened to one of their own. This was the first time many experienced the […]

Combat Rude Behavior with Radical Civility

Everyone knew that Jim was a real jerk. With an arch of his brow or the curl of his lip, this senior VP could reduce anyone to tears. And he did, frequently. As a junior staff writer at the time, I was a frequent target of Jim’s scathing derision. One day I decided to confront […]

To Get People Talking, Try Asking the Right Questions

It’s happened to all of us: You pose a carefully-worded question, pause and wait for someone to respond. Anyone. Please? And then you hear nothing, other than an awkward, prolonged silence. You start to panic and make assumptions like: “They must be multitasking! Maybe they’re all on mute. I guess no one cares about this […]

Avoiding the High Cost of Ambiguous Decisions

Imagine this: You are leading your weekly team meeting, and you have just five minutes left to galvanize people around a critical decision that will affect thousands of people. After quickly summarizing the various positions, you declare that you believe the group has decided to move ahead. When you solicit final comments or concerns, not a […]

8 Steps for Facilitating Constructive Conflict, Virtually

Your team is under pressure to make a decision that will make or break your big project. You are shocked when all of your colleagues agree to what you believe will be a disastrous decision. When you regain your powers of speech, everyone is waiting for you to weigh in. (Thankfully, no one can read […]

Taking the Pain Out of Consensus-Building in Virtual Meetings

“I assume that everyone is good with this proposal, since I don’t hear anyone opposed, right? Okay, next topic!”  Ah, but if this project manager could only see the body language of the people sitting around that virtual table, she would know that many people are most definitely not good with that proposal! In fact, […]

How to Prevent ‘Unfair’ Decisions from Tearing Teams Apart

Nearly everyone in town breathed a sigh of relief when our selectmen recently voted to cut off conversations with the big gaming company that had its eye on building a casino here. Those of us who had helped to create a Facebook page and online petition to mobilize the opposition felt especially pleased with the […]

To speed decision-making, get rid of the noise

To be, or not to be? Not all decisions are as profound as Hamlet’s, but some team decisions can be real game-changers. Making tough decisions can stress out members of any team, but when you’re working as a geographically-dispersed team, the decision-making process can be especially draining. Why?  Simply put, the decision-making process for virtual […]

6 Essential Guidelines for Making Better Decisions, Virtually

Let’s face it. We’ve all made some pretty poor decisions. Sometimes it’s because we feel we have to keep moving, in any direction. Other times we just don’t want to have to think too hard, so we make the choice that requires the least scrutiny. When we make a bad decision that has fairly minor […]

10 Top Tips for Leading Great Lessons Learned Reviews in a Virtual World

When run well, a lessons learned review can yield big benefits. It’s a great way for team members to discuss how they can capitalize on what they did well so they can do more of it, and to agree on what needs to change for next time. When results are shared beyond the team, lessons […]

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