When we have crucial talks with people, 1-to-1 or 1-with-many, we can ask the usefulness question. To yourself or to others.

Crucial talks are talks that matter, that are truly important to you or the other(s).

They are best held face-to-face, using the ‘law of the 2 feet’: I am coming somewhere to meet you in person and exchange thoughts with you face-to-face.

If face-to-face is impossible for one reason or another, then talk by phone or by Skype. Preferably not by e-mail when stakes are high (e-mail can still be used as a follow-up tool).

You can ask the usefulness question:

BEFORE a meeting: how will I/we notice this meeting will be useful? What do I/we need to discuss for this meeting to be useful? What else? What is less useful to discuss during this talk? What should not be discussed at all?

DURING a meeting: is what we are discussing useful? What is useful? What else do we need to discuss for this meeting to be useful?

AFTER a meeting: what were all the useful things we’ve discussed? Did we speak about everything we wanted to? What else do we need to talk about?

And:

What can we do more of in future meetings that we did today during our meeting? What should we do differently? What else?

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