where minutes are taken and hours wasted.”
This person thinks he or she is the only one with wisdom on subjects. They ramble on and on, arrogantly acting as though their ideas or beliefs are more important than others.
Result – others shy away from contributing, intimidated by the monopolizer’s stranglehold on the meeting.
Solution – The facilitator or even other participants should indicate an interest in hearing from others in the meeting. If there is no other solution–turning your chair away from the person could help.
This person hijacks the topic of the group by taking discussions off on tangents – topics unrelated to the issue at hand.
Result – Time wastage.
Solution – the facilitator’s ability to recognize and refocus is essential here. "Please let’s stay to the topic at hand" is a good way to get back on track. Alternately saying, "Let’s try to avoid tangents" also labels such behavior as contrary to the group’s aims.
There’s one in almost every meeting. Whatever the discussion this person delights in taking an opposing view. The more unpopular the stance the more exciting their challenge.
Result – Unnecessarily disruptive, time thief!
Solution – A good chair can praise this person’s ability to do this while simultaneously indicating its inappropriateness given time parameters or previously agreed issues.
This person has a Masters degree in negativity. "It won’t work." "Can’t be done." "They’ll never buy it." "We tried it once and it was a failure."
Result – Placing a negative tone to meeting. Deflating and defeating whatever notion is in motion.
Solution – Challenge them to think like The Devil’s Advocate. Use the conflict resolution tool of asking them to embrace the other view as if it were their own, and argue that side’s position.
They tackle issues that are emotional, touchy or are "hot buttons" for others in the meeting. They lead the entire meeting into areas that provoke frustration, animosities and often resentment too. Discussions of salaries, promotions or policies often stir up issues that hijack meetings.
Result – Meeting is hijacked by tempers flaring over emotional type issues.
Solution – A firm "let’s not go there" from the meeting’s facilitator. Other phrases like "let’s cross that bridge when we get there" or "that’s a hornets nest we don’t need to disturb" labels certain subjects out of bounds.
Mixes negativity with personal attacks. Without regard to hurting others’ feelings, the attacker uses a confrontational style to object to others’ ideas and go against the flow.
Solution – A good facilitator can refocus them to be positive, to remove the sting from their words and avoid an adversarial approach. All participants are entitled to stop the meeting when personally attacked. Ad hominem attacks are attacks against one’s person. People can criticize your actions or beliefs, but you don’t have to tolerate attacks against who you are as a person.
Their constant joking diminishes others’ serious ideas or suggestions. Their humor can belittle others’ motions and makes it difficult for some to be taken seriously.
Result – Constant joking disrupts a meeting and distracts attention from where it should be.
Solution – A meeting chair can designate several minutes at the start or middle of a meeting specifically for humor. When it crops up elsewhere and is deemed disruptive, the chair can remind people the time for humor is passed or forthcoming, so as to control it.
Managing your Meeting Monsters: Identifying the Cast of Culprits That Threaten Productive Meetings – Craig Harrison
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