Silence Means “No.”

Meeting after the Meeting

We’ve all been in the meeting where everyone seems to reach consensus on what to do next, only to find later that some didn’t agree at all.

Reading Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage” the the other day, I came across a simple tip:   Change the meaning of silence in your meeting to “no.”  Here’s how it works:

When closing an action item in the meeting, the leader should ask, “Does everyone agree?”  If there is silence from anyone, assume they don’t.  Only once everyone has verbally affirmed they’re on board should the leader move to the next action item.

I’ve been doing this for a  while in my own meetings and the ones I facilitate, and find it works wonders to get everyone on the same page.  I imagine it would work great in client meetings, too.

Image Credit: Tom Fishburne,


2 Responses to Silence Means “No.”
  1. Jennifer Romig
    April 7, 2014 | 2:17 pm

    Thanks for this post. I hope to blog about it at Listen Like a Lawyer. This post is great because it addresses the advanced listening challenge of understanding what’s not said. It also gives a specific method for more effective listening, thus helping debunk the idea that people are naturally strong or weak listeners and can’t do much about it. Thanks again!

  2. Jennifer Romig
    April 10, 2014 | 7:13 pm

    Thanks for this post. It’s an interesting take on the mechanics of listening — the idea that we apply rules of construction to what we hear and how we process it. And I like the implication that by studying and changing our listening mechanics in certain ways, we can become more effective communicators. People aren’t innately always good or bad listeners; they can take specific steps to become more effective. I hope to blog about this a bit at Thanks again for the post.

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