It's As Simple As Asking a Question
I have had an exciting, intense and wonderful career as a management consultant and have worked with organizations around the world. I have worked with groups trying to chart their future, groups that were stuck trying to get to the future, groups that were locked in conflict, and all kinds of situations in between.
The one helping strategy that never fails me is inquiry--asking good questions.
When a decision has to be made, it should be first formulated as a question. If you can't express it as a question, you will have a very hard time coming up with an effective set of solutions or strategies.
When tempers are flaring and you feel the heat in the room, a good question can help people focus on the issue rather than the combatants:
As long as you are asking meaningful questions, the group knows that things are still functional rather than chaotic. They may feel uncomfortable when strong emotions are expressed, but they know that the work can go on.
When a meeting leader comes up against unforeseen problems or the agenda gets derailed, asking the group to weigh in is both effective and appreciated. You don't have to figure it all out yourself:
If someone is upset with me, I really want to understand what has happened:
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