By Keith Jackson and the Mind Tools Team
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Dialogue Mapping

Bringing Order to Chaotic Meetings

Dialogue Mapping

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Map the discussion as you go along.

Many meetings take place to explore issues or solve problems, and many of these meetings are successful.

However some meetings can grow complex and disorganized, and are frustrating to attend. There are so many perspectives, so many competing voices – and so many ways to get off track. The original problem or question often gets lost in the discussion. Valuable contributions are ignored. And after a decision is made, it's often hard to remember the sequence of thoughts that led to it.

We run into this difficulty because problem solving is often not a linear process. As our thoughts and ideas jump all over the place, so does the conversation. Some individuals may "grandstand" on favorite topics, others may wander onto less relevant (but more interesting) subjects, and the conversation can seem to go around and around – until you either forget where you started, or get so frustrated that you just stay with things as they are because it's easier.

So how can you combat this frustration and keep communication in meetings on track in the situations? Consider using a simple and effective technique called Dialogue Mapping.

A Dialogue Example

Consider the following dialogue among four colleagues in a meeting:...

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