Managing Groups in Meetings – Difficult Behaviour
- August 13, 2018
- Posted by: Nikki Nir
- Category: Uncategorized
Managing Groups in Meetings – Difficult Behaviour
An individual demands excessive detail.
Ask the group if this level of detail is relevant or useful to them. Advise on a trade-off and ask the group to prioritise. If they want the detail, tailor and accommodate. If not, acknowledge the individual’s needs but ask them to seek this level of clarity in another way.
An individual supplies excessive detail or is over talkative and dominating the session.
If the individual is experienced, and the contribution is positive and useful to the group, then this is not necessarily a problem. However, if you sense frustration then draw in the rest of the group. Try saying to another participant ‘you also have experience of this, what do you think?’ If your schedule is too tight to address the individual’s issues during the session, explain politely that the meeting cannot afford the time and that you can discuss these issues together some other time, outside of the meeting. Perhaps the individual can be invited to write a paper or take some other active part in dealing with the issue?
An individual claims to be interested but says that the timing is not right at the moment.
Ask the group when the timing might be better. If they have a genuine point, move on. If not try, ‘do we need to recognise that there may never be the ideal time and now is as good a time as any?’
An individual is aggressive or highly argumentative.
This behaviour is unlikely to be a personal attack on you, and is more likely to be a form of resistance to the session objectives, especially when change is required. Remain calm and ensure that the group does too. Consider the individual’s fears or concerns and how to accommodate them.
Try also to find merit in one of their points, and then move on to something else, or throw their point open to the rest of the group for discussion.
If you continue to have problems, talk with the individual privately during a break to find out what is bothering them and whether you can win their cooperation.
Individuals are silent, or there is silence among the whole group.
Draw in quiet individuals where appropriate. Remember, some people prefer to learn by observing. It could be their preferred learning style, or they may lack confidence or experience. If the individual lacks confidence, compliment them the first time they speak. If on the other hand, they are overconfident or feel that their knowledge/experience is ‘superior’, then show respect for this before drawing them into the discussion.
If the group is silent then feed back this observation to them and ask why this might be. If there is confusion or disagreement about the issue, then you need to know so you can adapt the discussion.
There is too much intellectualising.
Bring the discussion back to action rather than theory. Ask ‘how can we use this idea in a practical way?’
The group agrees with everything.
Ensure agreement is genuine so that reservations aren’t revealed at a later date, possibly in more destructive ways. You need to create a safe climate and stress that disagreement can be very valuable for encouraging creativity and identifying the best solution. Invite someone you know to be confident and outspoken to give their opinion. Conversely, invite the group to work in small sub-groups to consider the issue and to identify potential problems.
An individual does not want to be there.
This may be expressed as ‘I don’t know why I’m here, it was my manager who sent me’. If this is expressed at the outset, suggest that they listen to the intended outcomes of the meeting, then explore if they have any related personal or team goals. Decide if these could be accommodated in the session. If, after the introductions, they still do not feel as if the meeting will be of use to them, and there attendance is not critical to the meeting, they can leave!
The group is looking tired/weary.
Try the following:
a major change in activity
check that the content is relevant, the pace is right and the level is appropriate
open the window and turn down the heating! Or ‘take 5…’
plan in advance how to deal with notorious energy low points such as about 30 minutes after lunch!
An individual is rambling or has gone off the subject.
At an appropriate point, interrupt politely to thank the individual for their contribution, then restate the relevant points and move on. Do this by pointing to the board/flipchart and tactfully saying either ‘we have strayed a little bit away from the subject’ or ‘something I said must have taken you away from the subject, the discussion point is…’.
An individual puts you on the spot by asking for your opinion.
You are looking for the group’s ideas and solutions to problems. Stress that it is the opinion of the team or group that counts, and ask others for their point of view. Try to remain neutral, but, if necessary, do not avoid giving a direct answer.
An individual is continually complaining about company policies/the way things are done.
Explain that policies cannot be changed in this meeting and reiterate the purpose of the meeting. Alternatively, ask what the individual intends to do about the perceived problem(s).