3 Tips for Gathering Opinions in Group Settings
We recently wrote about group decision making in communities and wanted to delve deeper into the process of gathering opinions from all members present.
When you're in a group setting, it's pretty common for certain ideas and opinions to go unheard, whether it's because the person doesn't want to speak or because they aren't given the opportunity. While it is important to have structure and a set plan or agenda for meetings, it is also important to ensure that every person has a voice and the opportunity to use it.
Here are 3 tips for gathering opinions in a group setting:
- Do not dominate the conversation: You may be running the meeting, but that doesn't mean that you're the only person who should be talking. It's your responsibility to make sure the meeting is at least somewhat structured and that you're following the agenda, but don't stifle the opinions of others. Make sure to convey the message that all ideas are important, not just those from people in the highest position or with the most experience.
- Listen to all opinions: This seems obvious, but you need to really listen. Don't just blow off an idea as a bad one because you may not agree with it. Give everyone the chance to explain why they think the way they do, and give other group members the opportunity to chime in with ideas of their own. Be positive and encourage an open discussion.
- Directly ask for input: The truth of the matter is that many people won't voluntarily give their opinions, and as a property manager or community association leader, it's your responsibility to get it out of them. Don't embarrass people by calling them out, but stress that it's important to hear from everyone. Try going in a circle and having everyone express their thoughts succinctly so that there is time to hear from each member of the group.
When it comes to community associations, it is inevitable that group meetings will occur at some point, if not often. You've probably noticed that you only really hear from the “usual suspects” in a group setting, but as meaningful contribution is the key to success when it comes to meetings, it's important to take the initiative and get people involved. Finding out what someone is thinking is often as easy as simply asking, so show interest and the information will come out.