Surviving Your Worst Meeting Nightmares
When you lead a meeting, you're responsible for your coworkers' teamwork, their decisions — and their behavior. That means you should also be ready for potential hazards such as differences of opinion, personality conflicts, or even brash and outlandish remarks. Here's what to do when your meeting devolves into a worst-case scenario.
"If you disagree with a colleague's idea, you should..."
"If a shouting match erupts, you should..."
"It's the role of the person who's leading the meeting to keep things on track and to keep passion out of it," says Catherine Smith, a spokeswoman for Linden Lab, makers of the online virtual world Second Life. "The addition of emotion into a conversation about work doesn't really serve anybody. There's a way to express how you feel without getting crazy about it."
If conflict between two employees becomes a repeat occurrence, talk to them individually or involve your company's HR department to see if they can't get their personal differences resolved.
"If someone makes a horribly racist/sexist/whateverist comment, you should..."
If the remark is substantially offensive, you may want to directly address the person during the meeting and let them know that what they said was inappropriate. J.S. O'Rourke, a professor of management at Notre Dame University, warns that allowing comments like this to happen more than once could open the organization to potential litigation for creating a hostile work environment. He suggests that a leader should say something like: "That's not how we see it here. I want everyone in the room to understand that I disagree with what's just been said, and that as an organization we have an obligation to do better." Leave it at that and move on to the next topic.
"If someone falls asleep, you should..."
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