Re: Using Silence in Meetings LO2804
Thu, 14 Sep 1995 14:28:43 +1200

Replying to LO2795 --

My favourite use of silence story concerns a consultant who was hired to
facilitate a strategic planning exercise in which the senior management of
a (USA) company all went off in retreat together into the Adirondacks.
The stage-setting get together was after dinner on the arrival evening.

Everybody gathered in the meeting room with the facilitator. There was a
long, long silence, during which time those present gradually focused
their eyes on the silent, and apparently mentally elsewhere, facilitator.
Finally impatient shuffling was apparent and one said - looking at the

" When is somebody going to say something?"

" I don't know," said the facilitator, "When somebody has something to
say, I suppose."

Another - shorter - silence.

"Well", addressed to the facilitator again, "how are we going to

"Good question," she responded, "what's your feeling about that?"

At this point somebody burst out impatiently, " Look! Exactly what are we
paying you for?"

" Ahh!," replied the facilitator, "That's an interesting question. Let's
discuss exactly what you're paying me for."

The relationship between this consultant and this company has now gone on
unbroken for 11 years

Phillip Capper
Centre for Research on Work, Education and Business
PO Box 2855
New Zealand

Ph: 64+ 4 4998140 Fx: 64+ 4 4733087