Wisdom//

This Tactic Will Completely Transform the Way You Communicate at Work

Sometimes, less is more.

Courtesy of A Lot Of People / Shutterstock
Courtesy of A Lot Of People / Shutterstock

Most office meetings have at least one thing in common: A lot of people speak, but we often leave feeling like little was resolved. Communication is key in the workplace, but when a group of people with various perspectives and levels of extraversion gets together, being mindful of how we speak — and listen — can benefit us all.

According to a new Harvard Business Review article, business meetings can actually benefit from more quiet. The authors, two organizational scientists from University of North Carolina, Charlotte, note that people tend to build on each other’s ideas in conversation — reinforcing one another through actions or words — rather than presenting their own ideas. This happens because people are biased toward agreement in a meeting, making them much less likely to pitch an off-the-wall idea. As a result, particularly vocal meetings can actually hinder creativity and communication.

Additionally, certain people are more prone to speaking up in meetings than others. Extroverts, for example, will naturally be the ones to talk most. “In a conventional talking meeting, usually only one person can speak at a time and members of the group must take turns expressing ideas,” explains Steven Rogelberg Ph.D. a professor of organizational science, management, and psychology at UNC Charlotte, who co-wrote the HBR article with Ph.D. candidate Liana Kreamer. This dynamic can lead to a phenomenon called production blocking, when one extroverted person’s ideas prevent the thought processes and ideas of others. In the end, many participants are left without giving their input.

With this in mind, how can we use silence to better communicate and boost your success at work? Rogelberg and Kreamer, the authors of the HBR article, suggest this four-step process to having a “silent meeting,” which can help amplify voices and increase creativity during a brainstorm.

1. Silently brainstorm

If your team is trying to come up with new ideas or solutions, a silent brainstorm — in which each person jots down ideas first — is the way to go. There are several benefits to generating ideas this way. First, the sense of anonymity increases the likelihood that employees will take risks in pitching imaginative ideas. Second, every single person in the room participates, never facing the stressors of “production blocking” — introverts, this is your time to shine.

2. Use clusters

Once the team is finished brainstorming, sort ideas into “clusters,” or piles of related topics. Some ideas may overlap or be nearly identical, so clustering increases efficiency while still maintaining the ability to let all voices be heard.

3. Vote

If, even after clustering, there are too many ideas to discuss, have your team participate in a silent vote. Ideas with the most support will be discussed in the meeting. Allowing for the entire team — rather than a few talkative individuals — to decide what to discuss empowers the group as a whole.

4. Silently give feedback

If voting isn’t your thing, consider this next step to silent brainstorming: Post each idea or cluster onto the walls and let people annotate each other’s thoughts. The comments should be direct feedback, whether that’s providing an opinion or further suggestions building off of that idea. This usually lasts for 15-20 minutes. By the end of this exercise, everyone will be on the same page, exploring the same ideas, silently.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Unplug & Recharge//

How to Make Mindful Meetings a Habit

by Rick Peterson
Corporate//

The Power of Mindful Communication In a Hyper-Connected World

by Thrive Global Staff
Community//

CREATING TRUST COMMUNICATION

by Jeanne S. Vaughn

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.