5. Use meetings to argue
This sounds bad, but really, this is what makes an effective meeting. Meetings let you get people together and work through differences in person. You can pit various ideas against each other and come up with the best solutions. If you don’t have any arguing going on in your meetings, then you are probably having meetings for the wrong reasons.
You have to learn to argue fair. You are discussing ideas, not personally attacking people. It may take a bit to get a team to open up to the point where they can passionately express their views, but that is what you need for meetings to really become productive.
It is *very* hard to argue effectively when you’re working remotely. The reason I’ve found to be the biggest blocker is that you can’t use body language and vocal variations to add the “meta” information to the communication you’re having to add value to the argument. Much like how Rand’s game doesn’t work well over the phone, arguing in a teleconference loses all of the subtleties necessary for effectiveness.
Because of that, the probability for hurt feelings, or at least miscommunicated or misdirected intentions, is quite high. To end an argument with someone with a smile, or by pouring a cup of coffee for them, indicates quite clearly that the argument was not personal but professional in nature. It is nearly impossible to do that if you’re some miles away, and the approach to meeting arguments needs to be approached differently.
I don’t have any good advice – I’ve been all over the place on this, including simply biting my tongue when I should have argued and having quite emotional arguments that hijacked the entire meeting (when I should have bitten my tongue!). My only tip would be to go light on the vocal argument and prepare a well-written textual argument. By writing out your thoughts, you’ll have a much better constructed, evaluated, considered and supported position with which to challenge someone. Plus, the record gets kept – everyone seeing the message thread will know who said what.