Today I have experienced a funny conf call. There was a moderator and many system architecture specialists, each with their own picture of what to get from the conf call discussion. I was a player too. The moderator joked telling us something like “before the fight starts”, and we commenced.
“Fight!” Funny uh? Conf calls have actually battle rules and are quite interesting moments. One at a time, someone talks to others who are silently LISTENING. The only way to interrupt is ASKING. Listening is the very basic of a good fight. Good listening sometimes, is enough. If you are asked to intervene, good practice is starting with ” I was listening to XX very carefully, and…”. That would immediately takes you out of the ring corner.
– there’s always someone who wants to talk first. He is in a hurry and he wants to quickly finish the fight (obviously winning). You recognize him as he generally starts wiht “we actually do not have too much to choose from, so the only way is…..”. Stop him immediately, do not let him talk too long or he will convince others to follow him.
– there’s always someone who’s in the call but cannot decide about .. anything, he is just a big ear (brain is 100% busy listening too). You should present them your big picture as if it would be the “as usual” procedure. They will feel safe and will get back to their boss with “just routine”
– there’s always someone who interrupts at the very beginning by simply informing you that “there’s not enough time to support any decision”. Recommend him to remain as a listener and to simply take notes, pretending a written declaration from him. You’ll be surprise how different will be his mail once he gets back to you
– there always someone convinced to know YOUR job much better than you and keeps recommending you solutions. Be very rapid with him replying “I can take responsibility of my proposal, but thank you, I will ask your advice for the next project, now let’s move on”. Then keep talking without starting again but proceeding from when you have just been interrupted
but most important
– there are always peers who studied, analized, verified a valid solution. Listen to them. Listen to them till they stop. Do not interrupt, or just ask for more details. Show your interest on others job and you’ll get back the same for you.