In Meetings, Tell Your Team That Silence Equals Agreement

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Many managers assume that when they ask for feedback, people will offer their thoughts candidly and directly. But that often doesn’t happen, especially in public settings and high-stakes situations.

o To force people to open up, no matter how reluctant (or passive-aggressive) they may be feeling, set one key ground rule: “Silence denotes agreement.”

o Explain that silence doesn’t mean “I’m not voting” or “I reserve the right to weigh in later.”

o It means “I’m completely on board with what’s being discussed.” You must then commit to enforcing the rule.

o If someone — even a powerful team member or friend — buttonholes you after a meeting to express reservations about what was said, tell them, “You should have spoken up at the meeting. Now everyone is on board and the ship has sailed. Next time, say something.”

Adapted from “Before a Meeting, Tell Your Team That Silence Denotes Agreement,” by Bob Frisch and Cary Greene

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Also, you may wish to check out an anthology, Management Tips from Harvard Business Review, by clicking here.

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