Communication patterns and the planning of meetings….

How we communicate makes us human. It also within that communication process makes us either annoying, verbose, tight lipped or any one of a hundred other ways to describe communication.

It is an uphill battle. Communication patterns (and their inverse anti-patterns) like anything else have interesting impacts. The first impact is of course simply the mixing of multiple communication styles into a single room or meeting. Get the wrong sytles in the room and you end up with a pretty severe impact.

The first and probably the most interesting to watch is the whose in charge wrestling match. Most if not all meetings have an organizer. In many cases that person establishes an agenda and launches the meeting. Sometimes however that person isn’t the authority in the room and there is a wrestling match for a moment regarding who is ultimately in charge.

Pending the communication patterns in the room you can with that wrestling match decrease the productivity of the entire team for far longer than the actual meeting time. In fact with the wrong mix of communication patterns (or worse the wrong anti-patterns) your meeting can destroy a team.

All people exhibit both communication patterns and anti-patterns. It is the nature of human beings to do so. The mixture is the combination of the triggers (that cause the anti-patterns to emerge) and the combinations. There are many overall patterns that while they are excellent patterns don’t work well together. An idea person and a builder aren’t always the best patterns to have in a brain storming meetings.

The end game for all of this is empowering the team in a way that team can succeed. Allowing people to function not only in the roles they are good at but also allowing them to stretch and take on a larger role.

You will never have a team meeting where there are not communication patterns and the triggers that generate the anti-pattern. Not all meetings will succeed. The goal is to not end up with a meeting that is hijacked by a pirate or one that the dancing bears control. In the end those types of meetings destroy teams.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.