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Complex Thoughts

Discussion Leaders

WHAT DISCUSSION LEADERS DO

  1. Ask questions early. Early in the discussion, natural leaders tend to solicit the views of other group members, hearing and evaluating many opinions.

  2. Make frequent, short contributions to the discussion. Leaders interject frequent comments, but not necessarily lengthy ones. They may make quick suggestions for directing or changing the flow of the discussion--but their comments don’t dominate the talk time of the group.

  3. Give informed, objective views. Leaders do their homework on the issues. When they give their views, they are well-informed views, expressed with conviction. Leaders can identify impartially from the views of others those ideas that are most valuable.

  4. Exhibit dynamic nonverbal communication. Natural leaders tend to have steady eye contact, strong and highly inflected voices (i.e., with lots of up-and-down intonation), dynamic gestures and body movements, and expressive facial animation.

WHAT DISCUSSION LEADERS SAY

  1. “Let’s try this…” This could be a suggestion that the group try a new approach, either to a problem or to the discussion of a problem.

  2. “What do you think?” A request for honest input, perhaps directed at more than one participant.

  3. “So what you’re saying is…” An attempt to clarify what has just been said and perhaps to relate it to a previous comment.

  4. “Good thought.” Natural leaders are complimentary of other group members and their ideas, seldom missing an opportunity to reward contributions.

  5. “Are we getting off track?” Always vigilant to control wasteful digressions, the leader asks for the group’s help rather than demands it.

  6. “Be nice” (or “Be fair” or “Take it easy”). An attempt to encourage diplomacy or to protect a group member from a harsh statement by another.

  7. “Your turn, then yours.” Natural leaders help maintain order in enthusiastic discussions by making sure everyone gets heard.

  8. “So what have we decided?” Summarizing periodically during the meeting, as well as at the meeting’s end, is critical to clear, productive communication.

  9. “So who is going to do what by when?” If no specific action is taken as a result of the meeting, was the meeting really worthwhile?

  10. “…” Silence is one of the most important responsibilities of a good meeting leader. To be effective, monitor your own talk time, and make time available fairly to all meeting participants. Especially if you supervise other participants, be careful to avoid dominating the discussion.

TAKEN FROM 50 ONE-MINUTE TIPS TO BETTER COMMUNICATION BY PHILLIP E. BOZEK

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