Do you hate board meetings? If your answer is yes, have you ever asked yourself why? Is it because everyone in attendance is not engaged or maybe you simply do you not care for the discussion topic? Maybe you find yourself spending more time wondering what everyone else is thinking and how that translates into their behavior. The latter is what we refer to as the psychology of meetings. Analyzing who participates in meetings and why, helps us understand how to conduct effective and productive meetings where everyone walks away feeling they have gained something in way of knowledge or perspective.

Although there is a lot of research out there on the psychology of meetings, Psychologist Albert Bandura has formed his thoughts of social cognitive theory based on the concept of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation and people think, behave, and react based on that belief. People attend meetings for various reasons:

    • to obtain information
    • to launch complaints
    • to make decisions
    • as a requirement of employment/position

By creating an environment where all participants feel a meeting has value, and each participant believes he/she can produce an effect at the meeting, you will have better meetings. To do this, start by familiarizing yourself with different behavioral types:

    • Barker and Biters
    • Constant Complainers
    • Silent Sufferers
    • Silent Steamers
    • Wet Blankets
    • Know-It-Alls
    • The Great Pretender
    • Wafflers

Knowing that different participants have different needs, start by truly listening to what a participant is saying and not saying. Really pay attention, give encouragement, and validate feelings. It is important to engage the attendees and ask for thoughts and viewpoints. People who feel they have a voice and their opinion is valued will be more likely to interact and be a productive participant rather than a “Negative Nelly”.

You can also make sure all participants’ needs get addressed by:

    • Having an agenda
    • Establishing ground rules for the meeting process
    • Validating opinions
    • Providing opportunities for self-discovery
    • Knowing your audience and mold your content and communication style to fit
    • Restating important items
    • Remaining unbiased
    • Asking clarifying and open-ended questions
    • Providing varying perspectives
    • Promoting personal responsibility
    • Encouraging movement toward a solution
    • Allowing time for questions

For more information about productive meetings and psychology of meetings, attend one of our educational programs.

Author
Loura K. Sanchez and Robbie Ruhaak
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