25 May How To Share Your Opinions In Virtual Meetings
With the second wave engulfing the country, we now know that virtual office meetings are here to stay. Between your homemade chai replacing the fancy office coffee and your temporary home office arrangement making up for your cubicle, a lot has changed.
Although you are still getting in and coming out of meetings as before, you may feel something is amiss. As you walked out of the meeting rooms earlier, you would know in your heart if the other members agreed with what you had to say or not. Their body language was the biggest give-away.
The same could hold true for you. Perhaps you are not able to express your opinions as clearly as you would like to. Or you tend to hold back, thinking that you may disrespect your colleagues or manager. It leads to assumptions, and we all know they are no good while making crucial decisions.
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The Left-Hand Column Framework
Developed by Chris Argyris and Donald Schon, former professors at Harvard and MIT, here is a simple tool that can help you connect with your thoughts and present them during your meetings.
This framework brings our attention to the conversation that is always going on in our minds. It is like a second conversation that is happening on the inside while there is another one happening on the outside.
The first step is to identify these conversations and thoughts. For instance, imagine you are in a client call where you are discussing the timelines of the project. In your mind, you are thinking there is no way you can pull this off in the given timeframe. It is a recurring problem with this client and this conversation is futile, as it has been in the past.
So basically, what you are thinking is different from what you are saying. To use this framework, draw a line through the middle of a page. On the right side, write down what was said during the meeting. On the left, write down your thoughts. Strike out the toxic and negative thoughts. What you are left with are your valuable inputs that could add value to the ongoing conversation.
The second step is to acknowledge that you or your colleagues don’t have complete expertise in your field. There is still a lot to be learned, and it is only when you all come together, ideate and discuss that you can enhance the value of your delivery. Appreciate it when others share their opinions and try to evaluate the possibility of their suggestion.
The third step is to put forth your opinions without disrespecting anyone else’s idea. You can start by saying, “In my opinion…and correct me if I am wrong” or “I am thinking out loud here and please help me here…”. When you use such words, you are looking for help from your colleagues to flesh out your thought further. They may agree with your ideas. If they don’t, they will tell you why it is not going to work.
The next time you feel you are bottling up your suggestions, all you need is to use the Left-hand column tool. With practice, you will be able to use it in real-time. As you do it more often, you will feel there is an enhanced level of trust between you and your colleagues.