How to Listen in an Unmoderated Caucus

by KFC on April 26, 2009

Listening during Model UN speeches or resolutions can be easy. A delegate listens to the speaker, finds a point that he/she agrees or disagrees on, and essentially makes a comment or asks a question based off the agreement or disagreement.

But listening during Model UN unmoderated/informal caucus can be hard. This is partly because delegates have to deal with rapid, on-going dialogue that requires an interactive response. But it is also partly because delegates were probably never taught how to listen during an unmoderated/informal caucus (or think it’s appropriate to not listen at all!). The Best Delegate knows that effective listening builds trust and respect, and also knows that delegates with different listening approaches need to be influenced differently.

So, ‘listen’ up as we explain how to handle listening approaches for several types of delegates:

Gunner: these are the delegates who are constantly rushing around the room during caucus and think they have more important tasks to do than listen to you.
Approach: Catch their attention and get to the point quickly. For example, “Gambia, I need your undivided attention for just a moment. Operative 6 has some weaknesses and Ghana and I would like to edit it before we submit the draft resolution to the dais.”

Hardballer: these are delegates who are not truly listening to you and once they have the gist of the conversation, will interrupt to take it over with their own comments.
Approach: Stop and let them talk. When they are done, you should say “As I was saying before…” to imply to them their interruption. If you are a more assertive delegate, step into the middle of the bloc, turn to a few delegates that the hardballer isn’t directly facing and then re-start the conversation. You will have essentially cut the hardballer’s audience in half.

Over-thinker: these are delegates who like to over-analyze, place doubt on an idea, have everything perfect, or are too detail-oriented. They may hold your bloc back from making quick decisions when the committee is going down the wire.
> Approach: Give them a ‘yes or no’ decision with a sense of urgency or be clear that analysis or advice is inappropriate at the moment. For example, “Laos, we only have 2 more minutes in this caucus, I need you to say yes or no to adding this as a friendly amendment to our resolution.”

Passive Follower: these are delegates who may not be fully listening (e.g. passersby or bored delegates) or may not fully understand what you are saying (e.g. newer delegates), resulting in your inability to fully influence them or gain support.
Approach: Ask them a specific question on an idea you just said to check for their understanding or attentiveness. For example, “Paraguay, what do you think about the vaccination program I just suggested?” or more assertively “Slovenia, I’d like your input on the funding idea I just proposed.”

Attentive Delegate: these are delegates who are listening and you can tell by the thought they put in into your ideas.
Approach: Be sure to acknowledge their attentiveness. This reinforces them to continue listening to you. For example, at the end of the unmoderated/informal caucus session, you could say, “Italy, I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my ideas.”

The Rogue Delegate: though less common, these are delegates who have policies that disagree with just about anybody (e.g. North Korea or Iran in some cases), may just be playing devil’s advocate, or may just be a complete disrupter to the committee.
Approach: You can acknowledge historical disgareement and start dialogue with them on what can be reasonably accomplished going forward. If they continue to be disruptive, then ignoring their antics usually works.

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