When There is Nothing More to Say
For festive purposes, Kevin and I have decided to give a nod to the pagan celebration of All Hallow's Eve and explore when to know the conversation that you are having with someone is dead.
We have all had conversations where the recipient of the other end just has no evolutionary language skills past, "okay", "fine", or "not really". You can try to coax these individuals into a more dynamic discussion by trying to determine what their interests are, if any. However, sometimes you just need to accept that maybe this is how they are or maybe they don't like really like you, so best not to try too hard. Accept the conversation is dead.
Another example of accepting conversational completion is when your manager, client, or consultant has clearly indicated in the discussion or body language (crossing arms in defence, checking their watch, or physically turning away) that the topic is done. At this point, if you want your opinion to be heard, it may be best to move on or wait to resume the topic at a later date when the everyone has had a chance to cool down. If you receive the same response when you challenge the topic again, then the conversation is Zombie-dead. Zombie conversations are topics that will not die. The discussions can be killed, but the weapons to kill them vary from Zombie-to-Zombie. If nothing seems to vanquish the Zombie conversation, then it is best to lay down and play dead. Zombie conversations can only stay alive if the object of the conversations appear to have a heart beat.
When conversation topics are spinning in circles around the meeting table, let them spin for a bit. After a few spins, and just before tensions rise, insert the "let's take a moment to see what we know and how to move forward" or "let's take a moment to take a breath". Assigning specific tasks, or re-evaluating the discussion facts can help get to resolution and clarity.
A meeting can be difficult if there is a topic that has not been fully disclosed. Sometimes silence can be your best defence, or your best give-away to your true feelings to others. Silence around to topic can indicate that no one wants to be accountable.
As this is a festive discussion, we could review the idea of dressing-up at work in costumes. This depends on office or team personalities, personal beliefs, and interest. It is amusing to see others express themselves or watch them enjoy the idea of doing something in the office that is non-conventional. Personally, I will have my costume at hand for this year, but Kevin is a purist and will stick to his cat suit.
There is nothing more to say today. This post is now dead.
Fiona Warren - 17 years experience with large high-profile projects and teams.