Parents and Carers' checklist for successful meetings

Some questions first:

  • Do you come away from meetings either tearful or wanting to thump someone?
  • Do you come away from meetings completely befuddled and not having achieved what you went in for?
  • Do you frequently feel forced into the role of 'angry parent'?
  • Would you like to feel consistently more in control and always heard with clarity?
3Cs present their 'Parents' Checklist for more successful Meetings'. Which was written by Lesley Beck and Linda Shampan specifically for their workshop at the recent EDCM day.

  1. Always prepare

    • Think of three key things you'd like to achieve and if you had to choose just one thing, what would it be?
    • Take time to write things out. Know what you want to say and what points you want to make.
    • What questions do you want to ask?

    • Practise saying these out loud, play around with different words, what sounds best to you?
    • Take a moment to imagine what the other person might say back to you.
    • What would be the worst possible thing they could say?
    • How might you respond?
    • It may help to bring your notes into the meeting or to have some key words in your mind or written down.
    • When talking about our children, we will always feel emotional and at out most vulnerable. Allow yourself to be human. By thinking about this beforehand you will feel less shocked by the very powerful feelings that can suddenly surface during a meeting.

  2. Leave yourself enough time to get to your meeting.

  3. Make sure you can sit comfortably through the meeting.

    • Is the sun in your eyes?
    • Can you hear everyone?
    • Bring a bottle of water or feel entitled to ask for water if needed.
    • Root yourself, have both feet firmly on the ground, at least to start with. You might not want to stay like this throughout the meeting!
    • Breathe out and don't rush!
  4. Be productive in your criticisms.

    • Calling someone a 'rude cow'to their face is not a good idea and brings little possibility of a successful outcome.
    • So how could you convey this without actually saying it? Give yourself time. Take a moment to breathe out. Ask yourself why you are feeling so angry. What is someone doing or not doing? Why are your buttons being pressed in this way?
    • You might try something like this, "When you don't lift your eyes from your desk to speak to me I feel disrespected. I would like you to try and be more courteous and look at me please."
    • Think of this as three stages as follows:
    "When you do/don't do..."
    "I feel..."
    "I would like you to..."
      An example could be, "When you don't refer to my child by name, I feel like just another case. I would like you to use their name please."

  5. Know how you feel

    • Talking about your child is always potentially very emotional, especially when something unexpected is said.
    • Give yourself time. If you can, just be honest and say "I wasn't expecting that. Could I have a few moments please?'
    • If it is too hard to speak right away, then just wait. Then, when you can, say "I'm sorry but I couldn't take in anything after you said...".
    • If you can't reach this point during the meeting, phone or write after the meeting to say, "I was just so stunned, I really didn't take in anything after you said.....".
  6. Whatever the meeting, never feel you don't have power, you do!

    • At the start ask, "How long do we have together to disscuss this?"
    • If you don't know why you've been called to a meeting then say so and ask to have this clarified at the very start.
    • Remember that you have your points to make and questions to ask but hold in mind that so do the other people in the room.
    • Do listen! Check that you have heard correctly. Eg: "Am I right in thinking that you are saying / suggesting....?" If they say "No", then ask them to repeat themselves until you do understand.
    • If you show you want to hear and understand what the other person says, then you model what you want from them.
    • Feel justified in making a note of things for future reference, be open about this. You could say "I just want to jot this down to make sure I've got it right."
    • A few minutes before the end of the meeting, if possible, ask to summarise what's been discussed and/or agreed.
  7. Consider having someone to come to the meeting with you.

  • Sometimes it can be helpful to have a friend/relative to attend the meeting with you without actually taking part. YOu might say at the beginning, "I often forget what's been said, my friend can help me remember or jot down some things for me."
  • Some people like going to meetings on their own, it helps them to focus, sometimes we have no choice. If you're on your own then take a few minutes to give yourself a little pep talk first and stick a post-it note on the fridge or diary to say - Good luck with the meeting! Finally, be kind to yourself.


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