Unfortunately, some communicators simply repeat the same words they used before when asked to clarify a point or they simply speak louder. Some communicators only make use of one medium, usually verbal, when many of the people with whom they work exhibit a strong preference for other media when receiving complex and disturbing information. Group members who are often described as “thick-headed” or inattentive may prefer communication in a medium with which we don’t feel comfortable. In order to improve their own communication skills, group leaders should learn how to communicate in several different media: speaking, writing, visualizing (diagramming) and enacting (physically walking through a process or procedure).
Communication and Appreciation
We return to a fundamental question with regard to this first group function: why are meetings used for the sharing of information? More effective and efficient procedures and technological tools are available for disseminating information to multiple destinations. Before calling an information-sharing meeting, shouldn’t we consider the reason why a group is needed to convey this information? Does the meeting provide a forum for exchanging ideas? Does it stimulate minds? Is this an efficient means for presenting information? Is this a support and appreciative setting in which to generate and make use of information in order to hammer out decisions, arrive at consensus, and reach agreements?
Before initiating an informational meeting, it is important to acknowledge that most of these four functions can be served without the potential participants gathering together in the same room. Routing schedules are the simplest form of information transfer. Instead of meeting to pass out information, send the information by e-mail to relevant people. Reply comments can come back in the same way. This method serves three of the four functions: exchanging ideas, providing and receiving stimulating ideas, and presenting information. Only the fourth function, hammering out decisions, consensus, and agreements, may require a face-to-face meeting.
In many instances, a meeting that is called for information-sharing purposes is actually being used to instruct and convince, rather than just inform. Meetings can be effective when used for these two purposes—provided all members in attendance know that these are the intentions of those convening the meeting. An appreciative meeting can provide a forum for immediate, two-way communication, thereby building team spirit and group acceptance of changes that have been made in the organization. An appreciative informational meeting can also include avenues for dissemination of information, for group member’s feedback on this information, for exchange of pertinent information among all members of the group, and for further definition, planning and clarification in all three domains: information, intentions and ideas.