TOP TIPS – Preparing for a meeting.

Welcome to our first mid-month blog. Every so often we will be posting ‘incidental’ blogs in addition to our main monthly ones . In these we may bring current news to your attention, or provide some tips and advice that we hope you will find useful.

Perhaps you have a meeting coming up to discuss your child / young person who is struggling and not sure how to approach it? Or you find yourself getting upset, anxious or even cross at the thought of the meeting? Here are a few tips taken from our own leaflet ‘Communicating with Professionals’ as well as a few helpful questions that you may want to ask.

Plan in advance

It is helpful to plan ahead for any meeting. You could:

  • Make sure you and those invited to the meeting are clear as to why the meeting is happening including how much time is needed or being given
  • Think about the outcome(s) you would like from the meeting and the questions you want to ask or the points you want to raise. Make a note of these to take with you to act as a reminder.
  • Think about how you might raise any concerns without being confrontational – see some examples below.
  • Take your partner / friend / family member with you for moral support. They may also be able to help you to keep track of your questions and may help you to write down anything that is said in response to your questions. Do let the professional who has organised the meeting that someone else will be attending with you so there are no surprises.
  • Make sure any paperwork that you need is sorted and easy to find.
  • Take paper and pen so that you can refer to what you wanted to ask and write down anything that will be done as an outcome or an action and who is going to carry that out and when

During the meeting:

  • Ask to be introduced to anyone at the meeting that you don’t know and their roles at the meeting to be explained
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for any jargon or abbreviations to be explained
  • Try to stay calm and polite. If you feel that you are getting upset or angry: ask if you could take a few minutes away from the meeting to collect your thoughts and emotions or spend a couple of moments going through your notes.
  • Revisit your outcomes to see whether these have been addressed.
  • At the end of the meeting summarise (or ask for someone else to) what has been agreed and what will happen next (with time frames)

After the meeting:

  • When you get home, check and tidy up any notes you made, so that you can  refer to them in the future if necessary
  • If actions were agreed, try and leave until the time agreed to see if the actions make any difference
  • Keep a log of any incidents/ concerns that continue so that the actions/outcomes can be revisited at an appropriate time

Helpful Questions to ask in a meeting

Communication can be a complicated process, with use of language, tone, non-verbal signals, engaged listening, often all being used at the same time. When we add emotions or conflict to the mix there is more chance of that communication not working in the way we want or need it to.

When communication is used effectively; teamwork, decision making and problem solving are improved and even negative or difficult messages can be communicated without creating conflict or destroying trust. The following type of questions used in your meeting can help with this:

Positive opening…

  • Tell me how well my child is doing in your class…
  • What is my child good at?
  • What are my child’s positive points…?
  • What do you /others like about my child?

Showing a willingness to work together….

  • How can we help my child with improving on ______ together?
  • How can we_______?
  • What are your thoughts on______?
  • It has been suggested that ______ can be helpful, can we try that?
  • How can I support you in supporting my child?
  • I have found _______ particularly helpful and I wanted to share this in case it’s helpful for you too. (you know your child best, feel free to share that knowledge)
  • My child thinks __________ may help, would it be worth a try? (your child’s view is very important, if they can vocalise what might help this is very useful)

When you are unsure about what has been said….

  • What do you mean when you say ______?
  • How does _____ relate to my child?
  • I am not sure what you mean, please could you put that another way for me?
  • Let me see if I understand you; do you mean _____ or _____?
  • I am not sure how _______relates to our problem/discussion/issue, please can you explain that to me?
  • Could you give me an example of what you mean / how that would look/ how that will work?
  • Would _____ be a good example of that?

If things aren’t moving in the direction you wanted you could try:

  • Have you considered ______?( you can give an idea)
  • My understanding is _______ .( especially helpful if you are certain of a fact and want to put this forward in a way that won’t create ill feeling)
  • If you can’t do _________, what could you do instead?