As I've written about before, your ability to achieve effective, productive, and creative teamwork depends on the level of trust among team members, their ability to conduct constructive conflict, their willingness to be vulnerable and ask stupid questions or propose stupid ideas, the willingness to give constructive feedback, and the confidence to accept such feedback and really listen to it. 

Unfortunately, in our era of political correctness and polarization, we tend to make up our minds before the meeting, and the meeting becomes a competition for who gets to keep his or her position the longest and "win."

But productive meetings are not about winning. They are about reaching the best possible outcome for the collective group. 

To achieve that, the first thing you must do is to let go of the positions you forged before the meeting. Be more flexible. Listen to others. 

Here are the three words that, if you used them in a meeting, you will increase its productivity, and the positivity of its outcome:

"I was wrong."

Those words have tremendous impact on meeting productivity. Here is why:

  • You allow yourself to be vulnerable by admitting you don't know everything;
  • You are willing to let go of pre-meeting ideas in favor of new ideas;
  • You actively listen to other people's ideas;
  • You are willing to challenge your own orthodoxies;
  • You let others know that you value their ideas;
  • You let them know that you are willing to accept constructive feedback;
  • You signal to others that the collective meeting outcome is more important to you than "winning."

In response--the others will do the same, and this will become a habit. 

Once you mastered these three words and used them regularly in meetings, you are ready to move to the next level. The advanced level. At this point, try saying the following seven words:

"I was wrong and you were right."