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Good Group Tips

In principle, groups are apt to be most peaceful, most efficient, and make their best decisions when one-on-one conversations happen easily and often outside of group settings. Especially in the age of email it is tempting to make every conversation a group conversation, but group conversations by e-mail are often inefficient and cause conflict. If I have a question for a group member or a comment about a group member’s behavior, it is usually best for the group if I talk with that person one-on-one. 

In a one-on-one conversation it is easier to ask and answer direct questions, be honest, and find commonalities. One-on-one conversations build trust and shared understanding, cornerstones of good group decisions.

Practical Tip: Muster up the courage to talk one-on-one. Start with a question. Have an open mind. Seek first to understand.

If you want to show everyone how smart you are or want to publicly surprise your enemies to get the upper hand, save all your questions and comments for group settings. If you want your group to make the best possible decisions with the least amount of conflict, work quietly behind the scenes one-on-one.

Of course it’s okay to ask questions and make comments in group meetings or by group email. But especially if you sense conflict coming, try one-on-one first.

– Craig Freshley 

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

2 thoughts on “One-on-One

  1. There’s wisdom in your TIP re: the importance and power to be found in one-on-one communication. In this era of Facebook and YouTube, you’ve reminded us of how and why trusted leaders always seem to be busy working behind the scenes establishing and maintaining numerous one-on-one relationships. Thanks.

  2. You are right, but (that old erasure word again!) here in FL and elsewhere, sunshine laws prohibit any communication (phone, email, meeting, etc.) between any public officials or publicly-funded directors of non-profits, unless such contacts are advertised publicly in advance. This is intended to reduce corruption, and increase transparency which are good objectives. Unfortunately, such laws also force all collaboration into formal meetings where every statement can be scrutinized. Some jurisdictions require recordings of all such events, even of breakout sessions. This has always been a major challenge to me as a facilitator. I can meet one on one with members of the group, but I cannot act as a conduit among them as that “breaks sunshine.” Fortunately, many if not most people learn to live with this without allowing it to stultify the group. Others are reluctant to toss out that zany idea that might lead to a creative breakthrough, for fear of being quoted in the media as an idiot!

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