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Workplace Wednesday: Leading Meetings with Compassion

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In this week’s Workplace Wednesday we explore how you can help to alleviate stress by leading meetings with compassion.

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Meetings are a favorite topic of annoyance for the modern professional. There are too many, they go on too long, they get in the way of “real” work, and maybe worst of all – they are poorly run and waste our time.

Now part of this is just the fact that most people already feel overstretched with their work responsibilities and no amount of excellent meeting management will relieve that. But, if you are someone in control of a meeting at your workplace – maybe you can lead it with compassion – relieving your coworkers’ stress rather than adding to it.

Here are some different ways to do this:

  • Be clear about the intentions of the meeting – set expectations before you even begin. An email ahead of time laying out the purpose of the meeting is great and lets everyone know how to come to the meeting prepared and focused on the objectives. For example: “During Tuesday’s meeting our objective will be to make a final decision on X,Y, Z and clarify next steps. You’ll be expected to weigh in on this from your department’s perspective.”

  • Create an agenda that serves the objectives of the meeting. If the meeting’s purpose is to align on something – what parts of the agenda can most effectively lead to that end goal? 

  • Start your meeting with a meditation. This won’t take too much time and it brings everyone in attendance on the same page. Here is a sample text you could use:
    • Close your eyes and notice how your feet feel as they connect with the ground.
    • Take a few deep breaths to slow down from all of your to-do list items and just be.
    • Now, after we’ve spent a moment quieting the busyness of our minds – picture someone in this meeting and just notice something positive about them. Maybe a time they have helped you on a project, or some skill that they bring to meetings like this. 
    • You can even silently say a phrase of gratitude for this person to yourself, “I really appreciate how organized you are.”
    • Once again, feel your feet touch the ground. Breathe in deeply. And finally, open your eyes.
    • Thank you everyone so much – I hope you feel more focused and ready to begin our meeting.

  • Follow your agenda – but be flexible if a discussion is eliciting problem solving. This is where compassion for your colleagues comes in. You may have set out with a plan for timed discussions – but be OK with going over that time if it’s leading to cooperation, connection, and driving toward the overall objective of the meeting.

  • Avoid planning to make decisions at other times. The meeting itself should have all the elements needed to make a decision – if it doesn’t then the wrong people are at the meeting. 

  • If someone is dominating the conversation, notice and ask for opinions of others, especially those who are more reticent to add their point of view.

  • Close your meeting with the final decisions, celebrate that you achieved the goals of the meeting, and very clearly state next steps.

You did it! Meetings are great if they are run well. They help with consensus building, keep everyone in the loop, and most importantly – get things done. You have the power to lead meetings in a compassionate way. To create stress-reducing moments for your colleagues. And remember to experiment – what works for one company might not work for yours. Ask questions, get feedback, and try again. Just making the effort will do wonders. Good luck.


Learn more about how the Healthy Minds Framework can support your workplace well-being with our Healthy Minds @Work program.


HM@Work Mental Health Workplace Wednesdays