Everyone loves meetings, right?

I’ve been thinking of ways to get a little more from the next meeting I get to lead. Here are two ideas that came up:

  1. Welcome negative comments
  2. Allow stupid questions

Let me explain.

Welcome negative comments

I will welcome negative comments. By negative, I mean opposing views from the perspective of the prevailing idea, direction, or sentiment in the room.

Yes, you can find people who are secure enough to voice a diverging opinion from the gang, but what if I actually announced that participants were free to be negative–as long as they

  • are polite,
  • address ideas, not persons, and most importantly,
  • present at least one recommendation or solution to the right or resolve the issue.

Allow stupid questions

The second idea is that everyone should be allowed to ask stupid questions. Someone made a distinction between stupid and dumb questions, but I think both are fine when free of malice. I also agree that it’s useful to let people know that there are indeed stupid/dumb questions.

The real goal is to create an atmosphere where people can voice their doubts without fear of ridicule or persecution. Societies have evolved, lives have been saved because someone asked a stupid question. I’m talking about inconvenient questions that uncover blind spots and challenge assumptions and biases.

I think these ideas will work if I feel secure enough to deal with opposing ideas without becoming defensive.

I also believe every meeting should stop when the time allotted is up. This time constraint will also help to manage the meeting’s flow so it doesn’t derail from its objective(s).


It’s hard to be above average if you can’t find a way to do the same thing over and over again. As Bruce Lee observed, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

In a world of social media, we glorify the results and not the process. We see the kick that knocked someone out but not the years of effort that went into perfecting it. We see the results, not the hard work.

Shane Parrish, Farnam Street

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