The 15 Laws of Meeting Power
Such a referee will even occasionally allow a fight to spiral dangerously out of control in order to exhaust the participants before stepping in. A ham-handed referee on a power trip gets in the way of resolution and forces the participants to waste some effort in cutting him/her out of the loop (101 on how to do this: undercut their credibility, draw in a different referee, collude with your opponent to escalate the tension beyond the amateur referee’s control).
In a formal context, a LOT is determined by how well the chairperson and the room can see you and how well you can see the rest of the room. At Telluride, because of the way chairs were arranged (in semicircular rings rather than rows) I chose to sit near the back, but in a very visible portion of the back. Not because I am a typical back row “silent observer with one wise remark” kind, but because I can see and be seen. The benefit of being seen is obvious: your raised hand can rarely be overlooked, and it is easy to dominate the floor when it is your turn, when people don’t have to twist too much to see your facial and body language. The power of seeing is less obvious. One benefit of being able to survey the room is that you can read group body language: is the left side of the room unhappy? Face ‘em as you make your next conciliatory remark.
[…] one of the signs of sophistication she looked for in a candidate was an instance of referring back to something that was said more than 10 minutes ago.
A corollary to the power of listening is the power of citation. Using what was said before gives you a lot of control. It is even more powerful if you remember who said it and what the exact words were, and can quote. Why? Because you automatically demonstrate that you were paying attention, making you more credible than others. Plus, you can temporarily borrow the “usual” supporters of the people you quote, because you did them the honor of remembering what their side said.
Extra Credit: keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Quoting your opponents more accurately than they can quote themselves is one of the most fascinating moves you can employ. The original speaker is put on the defensive, forced to fumble and clarify, and in the process loses control. If you want to experience true schadenfreude listen closely to what your opponents say. Do not admit to enjoying this experience.
There are several good reasons why meetings should not be held to silly egalitarian standards. A matter of special knowledge is being discussed. Would you give the two opposed experts 90% of the airtime and leave 10% to the lay folk, or give each individual his/her 10%? Someone is prattling on idiotically, would you rather cut him/her off or let them waste an additional 20 minutes of everybody’s time? Yes, labeling a contribution as idiotic and useless is a judgment call. But the point of meetings is neither “respectful dialogue” nor formal competitive debate. A meeting is about talking for the sake of discovering collective wisdom, making decisions and solving problems. This calls for fundamentally different approaches to evaluating and controlling the value of what is being said. Adversarial weeding out of collectively-designated bullshit is the only know way to achieve this evaluation and control. Leave egalitarianism for the voting booth.
Creating and manipulating debating stances in the group, creating polarizations and wars between entrenched positions, intentionally hurting feelings, framing issues in an “I win only if you lose” manner – each of these behaviors is morally suspect, particularly in the American imagination (other cultures tend to be a lot less nanny-like). Debate is rightly seen as a destructive force. Destruction is wrongly seen as a purely negative force. The element of genuine zero-sum debate is why meetings are creative-destruction processes and not candlelight vigils. Without clearing the deadwood of the collective mind with the controlled burns of aggressive and adversarial debating, collective decision-making and action is next to impossible. The forest fires of collective stupidity would take over. Don’t shy away from a fight when one is necessary. If you need to prevent a disastrous vote in one minute by carefully employing an ad hominem, do so. The ends sometimes justify the means.
Some excellent quotes I got from this post; good read, I'll try to learn them I see if they work while finding ways to apply them.