Deep in my files, I revisited an article that was published by MoneyWatch in 2012 about meeting behaviors. Any of us who have worked in a large or medium sized corporation, has probably spent considerable time in meetings. And if you spend a lot of time in meetings, you have seen quite a bit of “human nature” at work as people try to work their agenda, claim credit, and prey “Darwinian-style”, on anyone they can.
These five behavior types can cause things to go awry, but thankfully a few suggestions are offered as well. Here they are:
1. The “Bully”
Those exhibiting this behavior tend to “talk over” the softer-spoken team members, as though they are incapable of making their points for themselves. Feel free to challenge this behavior directly, but courteously, by saying something like this: “Josh, we’re listening to Marian right now.” If you allow a team member to exercise this behavior, the perpetrator may try it in subsequent meetings.
2. The “Hard-of-Hearing”
This is a behavior that implies that the person needs to be heard and either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that the ground rules of a discussion require during the discussion, comments should be directly related to the issue or topic in question. Try something like this: “Jerry, that’s an interesting point. Let’s table that and move back to our current agenda item.” Also mention that the meeting is on a timed agenda. If you don’t “call” the violator on this, you may be inviting this behavior.
3. The “Great Visionary”
The “Great Visionary” could be perceived as a frustrated philosopher that tends to send discussions down a rabbit hole. Their ideas may sound “deep” initially. You have heard such comments or questions, such as, “wouldn’t it be more effective if we doubled that?” A suitable response could be framed in this fashion: “Harry, I would love to be able to defend and rationalize a 100% increase in our revenue. How do you propose that we can achieve that level of increase?” Of course, I would not frame this response sarcastically, but I would seek a considered response. Now you can proceed with the agenda item about the Swartz account, by saying, “Now back to the question of why we lost the Swartz account.”
4. The “Question Machine”
The “Question Machine” operates as though asking questions about everything the speaker says makes them sound smart and attentive, and not realizing (or caring) how distracting it is. Unless the person is your boss, deflect this behavior with this tactic: “Susan, we’ll be addressing that concern at our next meeting and I will schedule 10 minutes for those questions and concerns.” If the person was not serious about the questions, they can gracefully walk away without risking being embarrassed in the next meeting.
5. The “Rambler”
The “Rambler” will occasionally makes good points, but each nugget may be encased in 15 minutes of a shell as hard as a Brazil Not. Unless you want your 30-minute meeting to last an hour, formulate a courteous response in this fashion: “Janet, are you supportive of this proposal or do you have serious concerns?” Make sure that you use your own style.
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