Improve Every Meeting With The “Activation Phenomenon”

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    Life is hard enough. Waste-of-time meetings make it even worse. Here’s a simple and proven strategy to make almost every meeting more effective (and enjoyable). Skip it at your own risk.

20 responses to Improve Every Meeting With The “Activation Phenomenon”

  1. Jason DelPorto says:

    Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      You are welcome, Jason.

  2. Cathy E says:

    Thanks, I’m excited to be more mindful in using this! I don’t always do this so it’s a great justification to do something that is fun and has proven results!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Yes, Cathy. It’s so simple, and effective, and yet people often skip it in order to save time and “get down to business.” But paradoxically, we limit our productivity when we do. Have fun, and thanks for writing…

  3. James Gabbard says:

    Happy New Year Richard!

    Good information as usual! Thanks for sharing! In interactions with others, I encourage the use of 1st names. I also encourage speaking to a person, rather than about a person. ex. “Are you talking about _____? Will you say that to them?

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks for writing, Jim. I agree with you about first names. It encourages people to let down their guards and feel more comfortable.

  4. Marg Thorsborne says:

    Great to see you again Richard – both on the video and in Bethlehem.
    Love the website too. Cheers, Marg

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks for writing, Marg, and great to spend a bit of time with you at the conference. You do great work! Hope our paths cross again soon.

  5. Marty Cohen says:

    Good advice.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks Monsieur Cohen.

  6. Laura Janusik says:

    This is a great tip! I showed it last night to my students, and, of course, they thought it was brilliant too. I have two questions: First, can I get the citation for the John Hopkins study? Second, does anyone know of any published research that links using people’s names to leadership or effective communication?

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Hi Laura. As far as your question re the citation, I first came across this study when referenced in Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto (page 108). I wasn’t able to find the original study online, but it is referenced in many other places. As for your second question, I don’t know of any research on that but I bet there is. My personal experience tells me that using people’s names makes a BIG difference, particularly in the early phases of a group or relationship. I work hard to learn and remember people’s names when I am working with a new group. Thanks for writing!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks, Ben.

  7. Lee Rush says:

    As usual- your talk in spot on and I agree with how helpful this simple process seems to be in connecting people in a meeting. In spite of the time it might take.

    PS– So glad to see your Peter Block book on your shelf.
    And was that MLK pic purposefully placed too? My ADD kicks in and I notice many things!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Hi Lee. Thanks for writing. Yes, Peter’s book has a “place of importance” on the shelf there. I love that book. And the MLK button is a tribute to my wonderful colleague Steven Brion-Meisels, who died way too soon a few years ago (and who always wore that exact button).

  8. Peter Shapiro says:

    Thanks for the tip. Could it be adapted for use by a mediator about to mediate with parties feeling unfriendly towards each other? Question is how and when to include personal exchanges amidst the contentiousness. Any experience using the tip in this format? Funny ending! Thank you Richard!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Hi Peter. Great to hear from you. I think many of us “activate” parties at the start of mediation sessions by asking each person to share their name and whether they’ve been through mediation before. I typically also ask whether it’s ok to refer to everyone by their first names. And presto, everyone has spoken!

      Under the tense conditions typical of the start of many mediations, it would make the parties feel LESS comfortable to ask unrelated questions that involve more personal sharing. But at the start of the second or third session one might do that I think. Thanks for writing.

  9. John Ford says:

    So enjoy these! They never disappoint! And I especially love when science validates intuition.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      I’m the same way, John. It’s so exciting to me when research supports what has always seemed in my “gut” to be true. And been validated in my practice. Very affirming. Thanks, as always, for writing.

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