Sometimes we don’t feel like participating in team meetings.  At times we feel ignored or inadequate.  This is what I think, if we are going to be attending a team meeting, we may as well participate.

There are four key components to actively participating on teams.  The first one is to maintain or enhance the self-esteem of others.  It is important that each participant feels respected by other team members, and that his or her opinions will be valued.  You can help create this feeling of respect by sincerely and specifically praising individual team member’s useful suggestions and recognizing their contributions.

The second key component is to listen and respond with empathy.  Everyone wants to be heard, understood, and accepted.  You can show participants you understand their feelings by listening carefully to them and responding with empathy to their suggestions and concerns.

The third key component in actively participating on teams is to check for understanding.  It is important that each participant walks away with a clear understanding of exactly what was discussed, accomplished, or assigned. Say something like, “We seem to agree that…” or  “Am I right in saying there is no support for…”

Finally, make procedural suggestions, rather than demands.  Procedural suggestions help you return the team to the appropriate agenda item in such a way that you don’t appear to be taking over the meeting or blaming any particular individual.  Say something like, “May I suggest…” or “Do you think it would be a good idea to…?

Keep these components in mind and you will get active participation from your team.

It is expensive to have team meetings.  Active participation is critical.  When people feel safe to share their creative thoughts, and other team members really listen to understand, the team benefits and so do the individual team members.  Keep people on track and share the control of the conversation.  It is a team…you know.

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