I only, sometimes, maybe, mostly do not offer my opinion in meetings.
In the past I have recklessly dove into professional convos offering my views, many times bashing down moments without warrant and care.
Once in a while, a deeper state of collab was achieved by me throttling and shaking the tree other times my thoughtful/less thoughts were graciously discounted as either rogue or dangerous.
Truthfully, I am okay with existing at the fringes- rogue and dangerous are not how I would identify my intention, but at times, getting attention and holding attention can stem from open disagreement with the establishment.
Tactically, I have changed my delivery and pursuit so that I can remain viable and approachable…but I still disagree a lot.
Having and presenting and defending an opinion is one of the most underdeveloped and misunderstood tools in a teacher’s kit. I often find myself in ad hoc convos after a meeting where a colleague, after the fact, agrees with the position I held in the meeting. I ask why they did not engage… some reply:
- Why bother? Nothing is going to change.
- I do not want to cause conflict.
- I have lots of [stuff] to do, no time for this.
To these I often ask:
- What part have you played in this conversation before?
- What [ideas, evidence, reflections] are you holding back?
- How do you hold decision-makers and stakeholders accountable to outcomes?
- Who do you trust in this group?
- Who do you trust, that should be a part of this group?
- Who do you accept professional criticism from?
- What have you lost as a result of not jumping in?
Of course, it is also critical to consider:
- best time to hold this meeting?
- best length of time for the meeting?
- best person to chair the meeting?
- best environment to hold the meeting?
- best method for moving resources before/during /after meeting?
- best method to account for deliverables?What is the…
Colleagues rarely say that they are not interested in participation, we know that meetings are a part of our work and that the big picture can make our time in meetings feel diffuse.
I choose to exist on the fringe until I am certain that I have an angle of trajectory and a full enough understanding of the topic so that I can better engage with the table.
I feel that challenging the issues at hand, especially when they seem dogmatic in nature, can feel a little like a free fall. And like a freefall, the thrill can be a bit frightening. Consider that the next time you agree, even slightly, with an opposing view.
- How would my support help to expand this idea?
- What could my support look like?
- Could my support now, lead them to supporting me later?