Talk On Topic

Does it ever seem like you’re the only one interested in getting any work done? Of course work has a social element, but when talk about the previous night’s episode of Survivor takes centre stage, you need to know how to get the conversation back on track, which can sometimes be difficult.

This was especially the case for our young client, Anne, when she began participating in management meetings. As the youngest player on the team, it was nearly impossible for Anne to politely or pointedly bring the focus of the conversation back to the business at hand.

Few people are practiced at keeping conversations on track, but the solution is to follow your high school teacher’s essay-writing advice: “Tell me what you’re going to say. Say it. Then tell me what you said.”

So if you’re the listener, be sure to ask, “What are you wanting me to listen for?” In Anne’s case, she started asking this question at the beginning of each meeting, and she found that she – and most of the other attendees in the meeting – more clearly understood the purpose of the discussion.

Although Anne is young, and this technique is new to her, she was happy to report that she has found the team meetings less frustrating and more focused, and more people contribute ideas now.

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