The importance of your voice, opinion or idea heard in any meeting will influence your impact in your company or organization. If you aren’t heard or called upon in a meeting, there are some simple strategies you can do to change that in your next meeting in order to be heard. The best part is it simply has to do with the seat you select.
The diagram below illustrates a typical conference room.
When the leader of the meeting is sitting position A, there are three strategic positions to take for your views to be heard.
This position is immediately opposite the leader and has the second-highest status in a meeting. This seat, like the leader, has a full view of all those at the table, providing the ability to easily add support to the leader and take note of the meeting dynamics of all participants. When you know your opinion is aligned with the leader, this will show balanced views and cohesion in leadership. If you know you are in opposition to the leader, be aware that this position will tend to be viewed as confrontational and you would serve your purpose better to sit in a different seat.
Seats C and D:
When the leader is positioned at seat A, then these flanking seats become supportive positions to the leader. Both positions have the ear of the leader and can influence the flow of the meeting by assisting the leader. The person seated to the right of the leader, seat C, tends to be more co-operative to the leader. Your proximity to the leader is key in making sure you are heard, and you can easily share your support. Important if you are looking to move up in the company.
Seat D also provides you direct access to the leader and you can utilize your proximity to whisper influences to the leader.
While we have evolved beyond situations in which knife-play occurs, historically, the person on the right (seat C) is less likely to be able to successfully stab the leader with a knife with their left hand; hence the ‘right-hand man’ is more favored, and others subconsciously credit the right-hand person with having more power than the one on the left side. Research supports that most right-handed people are also right-side dominant which most often creates a preference, in the meeting leader, to looking to his or her right for support and answers.
Traditional office politics often disregard all that we now know about seating and tends to place the second in command in seat C and the “up-and-comer” in the company to the left or in-seat D. Additionally, research shows that when there is a strong leader, members of the meeting will direct their comments to the person adjacent the leader, mostly the person in seat C, because it avoids direct eye contact and confrontation with the leader. While this is not always the case, perception, in this instance plays a vital role.
At your next meeting, strategically select one of these positions discussed and you will discover how others will view in a positive light. And don’t worry about others knowing what you are up to, most people don’t pause to think about the psychology and dynamics of seating positions in a meeting. You can secretly use this information to your advantage.
Need more detail about sitting positions? Grab a copy of our book “Sit Your Way to Success” to learn how you can apply even more strategies. www.sityourwaytosuccess.com