Strategic Benign Neglect

SBN (Strategic Benign Neglect) is one of the most potent techniques in life, not just in presentations and meetings. The idea is simple and powerful. Do you need to answer every question? Do you need to address everything that comes to you in any form? No. Moreover, you can acknowledge, advance, table, and defer.

Acknowledging is essential for me. I am not suggesting being rude or ignoring people. I have learned many ways to move past items that need to be addressed at a time and place you’d like to choose.

Yes and…

Loads of colleagues use this during workshops and sessions where sharing is important and being heard matters. You can listen carefully and then build this to avoid the negative scan that shoots down folks making contributions. It also cuts down on more reluctant participants from avoiding contributing. The idea here is that simple ‘yes and’ helps flow and is not a blocker in order to keep moving.

Table and defer…

When running a session, meeting call, or workshop. A helpful technique is to table and defer issues. Tabling something brought up that is not in sequence or line with timing and chronology. Depending on the story arc, you have tables; please let folks know that the topic or issue will be addressed later or at some time.

This concept is one of the key ways to manage to slow down the natural turbulence and even give you confidence in your own run-of-show. I have, over time, developed a sensitivity to how valuable this can be when you are in a flow and need to maintain that to an endpoint. I have learned that SBN is a tool in a storyteller’s kit of parts to make a storytelling event successful. I watched teammates not use this, attempt to entertain, and attend to things that clearly needed SBN.

This relates to the 5 Slide Rule™ in that it contributes to a running order exercise that builds confidence that you have all the necessary and needful covered and have off-ramps for murder-boarded items that need handling and preps.

Lastly, this has worked for me in many different settings for many years. It’s not voodoo; it’s a little control back in your hands, and that’s confidence currency for anyone nervous and anxious about their storytelling and feeling at the whims of any audience. Hecklers are going to heckle; this isn’t for that kind of crowd work. As always, your results may vary. #keepmoving #strategicbenignneglect

If you made it down here, thanks for reading.