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MLP 081: Meeting Leadership Exercises – The Pros And Cons Technique For Managing Disagreements

In any argument, it’s a good idea to pause and examine the good and the bad of each side.

This is the fundamental basis of the Pros and Cons Technique for managing disagreements, which we cover in episode #081 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

To help us explain the technique, we brought in experienced actress Tracy Carroll to act out a scenario where two board members are arguing over whether or not to give a raise. Both make strong points, so the meeting leader has to step in and settle things.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Than get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. Your listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Podcast content starts here!

Gordon Sheppard : Welcome to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s great to have you here. My name is Gordon Sheppard and I really want to say thank you so much. Whether you’re on the treadmill, maybe you’re driving in the car, the fact that you are tuning in to the Meeting Leadership Podcast to pick up another leadership skill, another tip, another strategy to help you learn how to run outstanding meetings, I really, really appreciate that you’re here.

00:49 – Handling conflicts in meetings

Gordon Sheppard : Today’s episode for all leaders is going to give you a technique that you will never forget, something that you can apply immediately to really handle any conflict situation in a meeting. Now, this is a delicate one and so I’m not going to do it on my own. 

01:02 – Welcome Tracy Carroll!

Gordon Sheppard : Thankfully, we’re bringing in a theater professional, someone who really understands the human condition. Her name is [Tracy Carol 00:01:08]. I happen to be married to her, but she’s got a ton of experience in this area. Tracy, welcome to the show.

Tracy Carol: Thanks, honey.

Gordon Sheppard : It’s good to have you here because I know that we’ve never been in an argument, so we could never apply the technique that I’m going to talk about. Let me talk about the technique first and then I’m going to pick up on the grin on your face.

01:25 – The Pros and Cons Technique

Gordon Sheppard : The technique that we’re going to deal with today, if you are a meeting facilitator, it’s called the pros and cons technique. This is when someone is in an argument and then you go into the middle of the argument, you get them to stop and then you get them to take each other’s point of view. I’m going to explain that a little further in just a moment.

01:49 – About Tracy Carroll

Gordon Sheppard : But for anybody that doesn’t know you, Tracy, take a second to introduce yourself, so they can really kind of just at least know who you are.

Tracy Carol: My name is Tracy Carol. I am a director and I am a dramaturge.

Gordon Sheppard : I know that having listened to you about your work over the years, there is two parts to your life that are really, really valuable in today’s episode. One is that you actually treat the creative side, so you deal with conflict in plays, which is kind of cool. You’ve got that perspective creatively.

Tracy Carol: Yes.

Gordon Sheppard : And you’ve got to run teams and you’ve got to be in so many different meetings and so many different scenarios as a producer, it’s just really good to have your perspective.

Tracy Carol: Thanks.

02:16 – The board members’ argument scenario

Gordon Sheppard : Let me jump right into the technique now. Here is the idea. We’re going to set up a little scenario. The scenario is this, there is a board of directors. They are the board of directors for a small nonprofit scenario. Now there are two members on the board who are having an argument about whether or not to raise the salary of the general manager. In this case, the general manager, he makes $30,000 a year. That’s our scenario.

Gordon Sheppard : I’m going to then also point out that the board chair is the person in the first scenario who is not managing the fight and then the board chair is, we’ll talk about what they can do in the second scenario, kind of the ideal scenario to make things better. Now you’ll see how this all plays out, so right now I’m just going to jump in.

Gordon Sheppard : I’m board member number one. Tracy, you be board member number two. We’re going to have this argument and I’m going to start it off by saying why I’m against it. Okay, are you ready? So here we go.

Gordon Sheppard : Now I think that the idea of raising the salary, because the salary has been so consistent for so long, is ridiculous. And I have no idea where we’re going to get the money.

Tracy Carol: But we have to raise the salary. This person can’t make $30,000 a year. No one can live on $30,000 a year.

Gordon Sheppard : It’s fine to say that, but you know that the situation that we’ve been in financially for so many years. What way can we accommodate this?

Tracy Carol: Either way, we have to find the money. We have to find the money somehow because this person will leave the organization. No one can live on that kind of salary.

Gordon Sheppard : That’s lovely that we have to find the money. How are we going to find the money? Do you take it away from programming? What’s the way that we’re going to do this?

Tracy Carol: Well, we might have to. And if we don’t, I will walk out of here.

Gordon Sheppard : Well, fine. Why don’t you just leave then.

Tracy Carol: I’m going. Goodbye.

03:52 – What went wrong in the board members’ argument?

Gordon Sheppard : Now thankfully, that’s never happened between Tracy and I in real life, so this is a real simulation. Now you can imagine in that situation the two people have gone back and forth. The facilitator of that situation did not step in and they allowed that argument to escalate, and you can hear how it gets out of control. Have you ever been in a meeting like this?

Tracy Carol: There is always meetings like this.

04:21 – Applying the Pros and Cons Technique

Gordon Sheppard : You know, it’s crazy when these things happen. People get in a situation where they don’t have the self awareness, and that’s what this technique is for. So now, the facilitator can step in and apply the pros and cons technique, and it would sound like this, if I was the facilitator, I would say, wait a second, Gordon and Tracy, slow down. You get them to stop for a second, right. Everyone takes a big breath in, right.

Gordon Sheppard : And then the facilitator sets the scene and says, Tracy, I think you were arguing for this, so now I’d like you to take a moment and argue the point of view against it. I know you don’t agree. I just need you to understand it and say that. And then Gord, I know you’re arguing against it, but then I’m going to ask you to argue for it. So Tracey, you start, go ahead.

Tracy Carol: All right. You know how I feel about this, but I do understand that it is a big leap to add that kind of percentage to the general manager’s salary. I do understand that it’s very tricky to figure out where the money is going to come from, so I do understand where you are coming from with this argument.

Gordon Sheppard : The facilitator can step in at that point and say, Tracy, thank you very much for articulating that point of view. Now I’m just going to move on to Gord, and he can argue for the situation. Okay, Gord, go ahead.

Gordon Sheppard : All right. Listen, I get that $30,000 a year is not a lot, especially for a full time employee and we know that our general manager has been working again for probably north of 50 or 60 hours a week and it’s really not sustainable. We’ve had a lot of turnover in this area and that’s been sort of just the way things have run for so long, but it’s been so difficult on the fundraising side. I also realize that if we pulled together as a board, we probably can either switch something from another part of the budget, or go out and raise the additional funds. It’ll take a lot of work, but I think we should be able to be prepared to do that.

Gordon Sheppard : And then the facilitator can step in and say, Gord, thank you so much for again patiently putting the other point of view forward.

06:12 – The benefits of applying the Pros and Cons Technique

Gordon Sheppard : Tracy, when you hear this kind of approach to this situation, what do you think would happen if the facilitator was strong enough to apply the pros and cons technique?

Tracy Carol: Well, it just helps because it slows everything down and helps each of the participants to listen to each other, right. When they’re arguing their own point, they’re just getting loud and they’re just listening to themselves, but if they can really listen to each other and understand where everybody is coming from, I’m sure you can come to some kind of compromise in this situation and figure out the best scenario for everybody.

Gordon Sheppard : I couldn’t agree more. The pros and cons technique as a meeting facilitator, I hope you get a chance to sort of… Don’t tackle a big one first. This takes some really delicate work, but if you can get to that level where you can help people to create a trust environment with this type of technique, I think your meetings will go a whole lot better.

07:00 – How To Be A Good Facilitator, Part 1 – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/44

Gordon Sheppard : And if you found some value in this episode, then you might enjoy our three part series called, How To Be a Good Facilitator. You can get the first episode of that three part series by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/44.

07:12 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy

Gordon Sheppard : I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now if you’re looking for great live training options for your team to help you build better meetings, or you want some great online solutions as well, then visit meetingleadershipinc.com/academy. And as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

07:39 – Podcast Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. Don’t forget to rate and review, so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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