Re: Using Silence in Meetings LO2845

Michael McMaster (
Sat, 16 Sep 1995 03:14:06 +0000

Replying to LO2795 --

I've used silence in meetings in particularly nasty situations. One
was a union/management situation where I was attempting to facilitate
meetings to align them on projects to transform a plant that would
otherwise be closed.

Both sides were bitter, antagonistic and righteous. They would not
engage in dialogue nor look at each other. I had them pair up, look
at each other and not say anything for 3 minutes. Then I had one
speak his mind for 3 minutes while the other listened in silence and
could not respond. Then reverse. When I suggested it, they refused
and I told them to come and get me (from another room) when they were
ready or just go home. They did come, they did the exercise and the
rest was quite easy.

My next "exercise" was to require that they not do anything for
themselves and that they had to ask someone from "the other side" for
anything they wanted - say a cup of coffee - as a practice
throughout an otherwise normal meeting.

Michael McMaster