How can a meeting not go well?

by Jan Yuill

Recently, I was on the phone with a colleague. We were discussing a meeting we had had with a client. Our sense was that it had not gone well.

When I got off the phone, it was supper time, and because I work from home, my 9-year old was there to see the look on my face as I began to prepare our meal. (As a true introvert, I go into the zone when I have something on my mind.)

In her own facilitative fashion, she said to me, “Mummy, I can see that you have something on your mind. You know that I’d like to hear all about it, but only if you want to tell me.”

I told her everything was fine, but she persisted. I knew that she was worried that she may have done something to upset me, so I decided to tell her (as much as she needed to know).

I told her that the telephone conversation was about a meeting that had not gone as well as we had hoped. To this she said, “How can a meeting not go well? It’s just not in my vocabulary!”

Indeed. How can a meeting not go well? When people agree to meet together, there must be a certain understanding that together they create the outcome. And as a facilitator, I have learned that a group process flows the way that it must.

A so-called ‘bad’ outcome may be necessary for a while or for a reason.

Her words shifted the responsibility of the meeting to the shoulders of everyone who was present, and I felt less burdened.

In Organizations Alive! language, this is Membership Potential at work.