Use the “silence Means Agreement” Rule to Get the Best Feedback

Meeting with colleagues is the best time to discuss new ideas or object to ideas already expressed. If it doesn’t, try proposing a new rule: if you are silent, then you agree.

As the business site Harvard Business Review explains, meetings can understandably be intimidating. However, if your team is silent, you may be missing out on new ideas. To make matters worse, someone may be completely silent during the meeting, but object to the plan when everyone is gone. This makes it difficult to move forward. Instead, this rule encourages everyone to speak up:

These three words do a great job of getting people to open up, no matter how reluctant (or passive-aggressive) they might feel. Explain to people that if they don’t say anything when they receive a proposal or plan, they are voting for it. Silence does not mean “I do not vote” or “I reserve the right to express my opinion later.” This means: “I completely agree with what is being discussed.”

If you have a lot of passive people on your team who prefer direct one-on-one conversations to voice their opinions, this new method may require some persuasion. If you are hosting a meeting, try asking each person in turn if they agree with what is being discussed. Give them the opportunity not to drown out their voices. But in the end, train your team to think that if you don’t speak, you are supposed to be on the team.

Before the meeting, tell your team that silence means agreement | HBR


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