Standing around with other people during unmoderated caucus, do you ever notice those delegates who purposefully try to dominate the conversation? They talk as much as they can, shout down anyone else who tries to speak, and they become even more annoying when the chair walks nearby. These delegates think that talking a lot scores them points with the chair, earns them a leadership role amongst their fellow delegates, and ultimately will help them win an award.
A bad chair, who doesn’t actually know what’s going on in committee, and only sees one person talking, may think that this delegate is in control. But in reality, these power delegates just alienate everyone else and earn no respect from fellow delegates. They try so hard to win by dominating everyone else and write the resolution on their own, when most of the time, they just end up in a caucus bloc with other power delegates who are ironically thinking the same thing. They believe they’re leading the caucus and winning the committee, but they actually prevent any real work from getting done.
Here’s a quick tip for handling a power delegate that isolates them, lets other people speak, and makes you look good in the process. (Note that this applies moreso to the beginning of a conference when everyone is still trying to get to know one another, it still has general applications)
Let the power delegate speak for a little bit and let him make his point, listening politely like you would for any other person. As soon as he’s done with his point, he’ll most likely to attempt to keep rambling on and make additional incoherent points without listening to other people. This is his attempt to assert dominance. Power delegate: “The US believes we should send in troops. And then hold elections. And then start an education program. Education, education, education, blah blah blah…”
But before he can launch into a one-man show that wastes everyone else’s time, cut him off–by asking him a question. (Huh? Won’t this make talk more? Keep reading…) Direct it specifically at him; ask him to rephrase or clarify something he said. He might not expect this; he’s most likely used to just plowing ahead. But he’ll most likely take this as an opportunity to keep talking; you asked him a question, after all. You: “Excuse me, US, but what kind of education program did you have in mind?”
As soon as he’s done with his response, and before he can launch into a new, unrelated point, direct a new question at someone else in the caucus bloc. You can ask this other person if he agrees with the power delegate. Or, you can ask a rhetorical question to another delegate, in order to let this other delegate speak. You: “Ghana, didn’t you have a similar idea about an education program?”
Now you’re letting this other delegate speak. As long as this delegate is making his point, then the power delegate can’t just cut him off without obviously looking rude, or more obviously rude than he was before. Once this delegate finishes his point, and before the power delegate can jump in, direct another related question at another delegate. You: “India, I think you have this particular education program in your country, don’t you?”
Soon, you’ve asked everyone in the caucus bloc a question, and given everyone a chance to speak. Assuming there’s time left in the committee–and there might not be, which is the risk to this technique–now it’s your time to speak. And you can either use this time to give your country’s position, or, even better, use it to start writing the resolution. You: “Well, I think we all agree that education should be part of the resolution. I think everyone likes this part of India’s program, and this part of Ghana’s idea. Let’s write them down.” Booyah–now you’re the author of the resolution.
This tactic may seem counter-intuitive, but think of it this way. If you are the one asking and directing questions, chances are that the delegates speaking are talking directly to you. This makes you look like a leader. On top of that, you are allowing other people to speak and voice their ideas; you are connecting the people in the caucus bloc to one another. And because you are the driving force behind this connection, you really are the leader. And this, of course, is the signature characteristic of a true best delegate: leadership.
There’s a lot more nuance to this technique, like if everyone doesn’t agree on a particular issue, or if the topic is too broad to cover in a couple caucus sessions, or if everyone in the group is a power delegate (in which case you probably should just find another caucus bloc). And there are also certain risks involved. As already mentioned, this tactic takes time to execute. But more importantly, a bad chair only sees the talkers, not the listeners. So if you have a bad chair, then this technique may not make you immediately noticeable, although in the long run, if it helps you win friends and allies who will help and promote you because you are not a power delegate, i.e. a jerk, then it will help you.
And in a way, this technique is somewhat ironic. The power delegate thinks that he can control the caucus by talking. The best delegate, on other hand, actually control the caucus by listening. In most social situations, including MUN committees, people think that the person speaking is in control. And if you let him speak, he is. But the person speaking is entirely dependent on the people who are listening. Therefore, it is the delegate who chooses to whom people will listen–by directing questions and connecting people to one another–that truly controls the debate.