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Let's do this! Sparking discussion

If a team is going to work well together, every member must listen to each other’s ideas in order to combine them and form the best solution possible. Everyone who is part of a meeting should have a voice, and the ability to facilitate a smooth and dynamic discussion is a skill that any company or organisation will appreciate.

As the leader of the AIESEC media team, I always allow people to finish their ideas and then share my own thoughts. By presenting and defending our ideas, and considering possible alternatives, we can challenge each other to improve our thinking.

While an ideal team would be comprised of people who were both confident and sensitive to people around them, it is rather unlikely that your next meeting will be attended exclusively by people who fit this description. Meetings and group discussions often intensify personalities; people who are quiet become quieter and people prone to combativeness become particularly defensive if they feel like they are being challenged. Due to the public nature of meetings, there are some specific strategies that you can use to make your team more productive without damaging any relationships in the process.

One way to prevent people from talking too much is to agree beforehand to time allotments for each member of the discussion. Nov Meansambo, a 29-year-old director of sales and marketing at the Borei Angkor Resort and Spa, said that in the meetings that she facilitates, time on the floor is divided fairly. “Everyone has an equal right to speak in the meeting, but I will limit the time and tell everyone in advance how many minutes they have to share their ideas,” she said.

Quiet people present a different challenge. I try to engage these people by probing them on their opinions. Along with engaged body language and eye contact, you can make reserved people feel like their ideas are worth sharing.

Approaching these people outside of meetings to find out why they are disengaged can be awkward, but ultimately rewarding. Perhaps it is just that they haven’t prepared, but they might also have personal problems that you can help them talk out.

Although she is only a freshman at the Institute of Foreign Languages, Sok Samphoasphalyka offers some sage advice when it comes to personal interactions. “No matter what the situation is, always consider what technique will work best with the person you are approaching,” she said.

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