Establishing Temporary Rules for Gatherings

Meetings provide an opportunity for leaders to create their own world.

Summary
Transcript

In this backstage interview from Leadercast Women 2019, Priya Parker, author and founder of Thrive Labs, shares why leaders should set specific rules for their meetings.

“Rules help us limit or encourage certain behavior that helps us serve a purpose, and people are willing to follow the rules when your purpose is legitimate,” says Priya. “When they realize that your creating this rule is not to be controlling or arbitrary, but because it's going to be the fastest way for a group to actually coordinate.”

Creating rules for your gatherings should not be to assert control, but to guide those in attendance to achieving the meeting’s purpose. Watch the video to hear an example of rule-setting in action.

We've tended to make our gatherings vague and diluted because we don't want to offend one another. And one of, in a diverse, multicultural, always-changing, modern world, in the workplace or with friends, I believe that every gathering is an opportunity to create a temporary alternative world where you can make your own rules and communicate it to people.

And gatherings are powerful when you have a purpose and you know what it is, and it's specific and it's disputable, meaning people can disagree with it. But also rules can help us across differences understand what are the kind of rules or the norms of this gathering for this time, and do I want to be part of it.

There's an underground experience designer named Anthony Rocco. They would do new member orientations where they didn't want to make it feel too, like overly controlled or hard-handed, but they needed, they wanted people to have permission to talk to each other. And so they just made one rule for the evening which is, when you walked in you were told, “Drinks are in the back… Welcome, drinks are in the back. The only rule of the evening is you can't pour yourself a drink. You can pour anyone else a drink, but you can't pour yourself a drink.” And it was this small little design tweak, a rule, that allowed people to give social permission to actually think about themselves as almost co-hosts. “How do I take care of somebody else for the evening?” With still being playful in some ways.

So rules help us limit or encourage certain behavior that helps us serve a purpose, and people are willing to follow the rules when your purpose is legitimate. When they realize that your creating this rule is not to be controlling or arbitrary, but because it's going to be the fastest way for a group to actually coordinate.
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Priya Parker

Priya Parker is a master facilitator, strategic advisor, acclaimed author of "The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters" and founder of Thrive Labs. Priya has spent 15 years helping leaders and communities have complicated ...

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