To Run Better Meetings, Make Friends with Anxiety

November 2007
by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff

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To Run Better Meetings, Make Friends with Anxiety

by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff

Meetings are as common as dirt and about as popular. Often they stir a lot of anxiety, especially when people disagree, avoid critical issues, or blame the leader for what they dislike. Paradoxically, you can grow your capability for leadership by increasing your tolerance for disorder, ambiguity, and tension. 

Here are the perspectives on managing anxiety that we have found most useful for people who run meetings.

1. Use the Four Rooms of Change Concept

Claes Janssen, a Swedish social psychologist, made an inspired leap in the 1970s. He devised a model of human development you can learn quickly if you are willing to reflect on your own experience.

In the Contentment Room, everything is fine, the world secure, soft lights, music, and easy chairs. Pause . . . Breathe deeply . . . Relax . . . 

But then something happens! A thunderstorm. An earthquake. We interrupt this music to bring you a breaking story: fires and floods coming your way. We are inundated with messages we would rather not hear, overwhelmed with information we cannot absorb. We seek refuge. And the nearest way out is through the door ma…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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