Tensions in meetings

Tensions in meetings

(Christoph Haug) #1

Have you ever found that a particular kind of tension keeps coming up in meetings? Let’s do a little brainstorming exercise here and write down as many tensions as we can find!

For example, I think a crucial one is that of integration vs differentiation, i.e. the tendency or wish to come to some agreement versus the tendency or wish to respect all voices and “let many flowers bloom”.

Another one is the one described by @wilbert in his book on the development of modern meeting behaviour namely that between a parliamentary ideal of meetings and what he calls a “professional” ideal of meetings(I would call it managerial). The parliamentary ideal is governed by a set of formal rules (parliamentary procedure or by-laws) while the managerial meeting is less formal and governed by a leader who draws on social psychology to motivate and accommodate meeting participants.

What else can we come up with?

(wilbert) #2

In my pechakucha I showed a list of frequent tensions and important conflicting expectations in meetings as a consequence of the existence of two dominant meeting behaviour models: a political/democratic and a business/managerial one, This is the sheet:

If you want I can explain and clarify it further.
Cheers, Wilbert

(William E. Christwitz) #3

Dear Christoph and Others, I see no one tension coming up chronically, but I do see some which have repeated. Some people find it hard to switch gears to get optimal emotional or practical results. Some primarily want to get the business done so they can get to their personal work. Others mostly want to form bonds or positionings in the meeting, and some bring in old obsolete patterns of relating which undermine both bonding and decision making. A good meeting process or facilitator will sense the different needs and habits, and suggest ways to work together so that people can enter into more adaptability and understanding. If the gears don’t shift, and time and money don’t interfere, the decisions become more process oriented for awhile until the original agenda can work again. If time and money are a big factor, then the facilitator may need to shift into a Chairing role, and just get a majority or plurality on a motion. Hopefully without throwing chairs around.

(Elise Keith) #4

I think @EdC is right that an experienced facilitator can negotiate many of the underlying tensions, and that many of the tensions @wilbert shows in his chart can also occur within an individual meeting.
To expand on the list provided so far:

  • Staying on time vs. allowing the conversation unfold
  • Documenting outcomes vs. active listening
  • Facilitating vs. participating
  • Getting everyone’s input vs respecting the personal styles of introverts
  • Creating structure without imposing formality