At one point or another we have all been in an office meeting where someone just dominates the conversation.
Look, it’s not all bad, those people tend to be bright, hardworking, enthusiastic colleagues. However, this type of control during a meeting can also cause much negativity and a lack of enthusiasm within the group.
It can really dampen the ideas and spirits which is much needed in discussions like this. It can also lead to frustration, hurt feelings and an overall lack of commitment from your other employees.
So, what can you do before and during your meeting to make sure this doesn’t happen?
Before the meeting you can think about the person(s) that tends to control the discussion. Do they just like to hear themselves talk? Do they like to feel like they are in charge? Are they just oblivious to what is happening?
- You can institute simple ground rules that everyone must participate. This will set up the expectation in advance that you want balance with involvement and input.
- Establish an agenda that will set a time limit for each subject matter. Select a timekeeper from the meeting to ensure things stay on track.
Once the meeting gets started there are many strategies that you can use to keep things on track…
- Often, people want to feel heard. After a person speaks, you can reinforce they were heard by quickly summarizing what was said or writing down a summary on poster board of their ideas.
- You could try varying your meeting structure by gathering in smaller groups, possibly in sets of two. This can provide alternatives for discussions.
- Make an effort to interject, asking for ideas from others. “Who haven’t we heard from?” or “Does anyone have an opinion on this?” are great examples of some possibilities.
- When the meeting takes a break, you might be able to try and give the person some feedback that will encourage them to listen more. However, you must do this privately.
You can also go through a process to have others evaluate your meeting. If this issue comes up, it can be a great starting point for you to address it.
And of course if it gets really bad you can always you can also bring in an outside facilitator who can help create a space for more balanced participation.
It’s not always easy to manage conversations and to moderate loud or frequent opinions, but it is important for you to create boundaries, so don’t be nervous about being a steady and strong moderator, because when you are, only good things will come out of it!
How do you handle people that dominate your meetings?Dave Baney is the founder and CEO of 55 Questions, LLC and author of "The 3x5 Coach: A Practical Guide to Coaching Your Team for Greater Results and Happier People", which is now available in Paperback or a Kindle version at https://tinyurl.com/y8ecykfy
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