During company meetings, employees will have varied comfort levels around sharing their opinions. Some may fear sharing their opinion because it differs from the majority. For these individuals, it may be less important to feel heard, and more important to fit in. Here are three tips to engage quieter meeting attendees and help them feel comfortable sharing their ideas and perspective with the group.
Ask the employee what he/she thought of the topic/issue.
When directly asked, the employee may feel more compelled to share his/her thoughts. Once this person shares, you can dig deeper and follow up with, “if there were no obstacles at all, what would be your ideal solution be?”
Be patient while quieter employees formulate their thoughts. Encourage them to share more by slowly nodding, and using encouraging words that make them feel like their comments matter.
Create a safe environment.
Create a culture where people feel safe sharing their opinion, even if it goes against the grain and potentially creates more work for the team. To create a safe place for reticent participants, set the rule at the top of the meeting that there will be no criticism of other’s opinions; that every opinion counts. This rule may allay their fear of being judged. The best and most collaborative decisions usually come from the collective ideas on the table.
Try these tips during your next meeting and let us know in the comments below how meeting participation improves.