How To Deal With Problem People In Meetings  

Despite planning for success, some meetings do not run how you anticipated that they might. This is probably down to some of the issues identified below – each of which has a number of practical suggestions on how to deal with the matter and keep your meeting as productive as possible: 

New or shy people do not contribute to the meeting – Invite new people to introduce themselves and ask questions – their silence may not mean that they agree with what others are saying!

People from minority groups or who have unpopular views are not heard – Make sure that they are invited to air their views otherwise you are storing up problems later on, insist that others give them time to speak, even if they disagree and always ask if anyone who has not spoken yet wishes to comment

People interrupt each other – Be firm and consistent, acknowledge the interruption but avoid being drawn in. Always ask the person who is interrupting to wait until the first person has finished, then go back to them to air their points of view

People talk amongst themselves – Stop the chatter politely at first, then firmly – it is distracting and discourteous. Be firm about them waiting for their turn to speak and emphasise the importance of listening to what the speaker has to say

Speakers talk for too long or get side-tracked away from the topic – Be firm and consistent and thank them for their contributions and for raising interesting points, then explain you want to ask others to comment

People criticise decisions or each other in a negative way – Be firm about looking for solutions not problems, ask for suggestions about how things could be improved and ask the critic what they would do to resolve the issue

People argue or make emotional outbursts – Stop the discussion. Identify areas where there is agreement, summarise the issues and suggest ways forward. Always remember to take the focus away from individuals and concentrate on the broader issue

People will always associate managers with a meeting style – makes your style a fair, open and productive one!

Good Luck!

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