Every year I facilitate a session on managing meetings for participants of the Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC).
Although it’s a bit of a dry subject, managing meetings often proves to be a nightmare for the teams of the business training programme.
However, the current JMEC participants probably don’t know this yet as the teams for the 19th consecutive competition have yet to be finalised.
Everyone thinks they know how to run a meeting, so what’s the point of the session?
In the nine years that I have been involved with JMEC and throughout my (oh so long) working career, I have seen many meetings fall apart at the seams.
Below I have described, with a light-hearted approach, the types of people seen at meetings in the past. See if you can recognise any of them.
If you wish to discuss techniques for dealing with the above types of people, you will have to attend JMEC’s session on managing meetings.
Good luck JMEC 19 participants!
This type of person likes to constantly take the opposite view to any argument or point being put forward. They seem to think it is some sort of sport. Often this person begins by saying “for the sake of argument, I believe the opposite is true”.
While there is always value in looking at more than one point of view, the devil’s advocate seems to take this stance at every possible opportunity.
I am a great believer in lightening the atmosphere from time to time. However, jokers often are over the top and sometimes belittle others’ ideas and contributions.
Jokers can be a real pain when one is trying to keep a meeting on track. Their constant repartee derails others, and often completely redirects the subject being discussed.
PANDORA’S BOX OPENER
These meeting monsters feel they have to tackle issues that are emotional, touchy or “hot buttons” for others.
In every business meeting there are topics that are guaranteed to strike a nerve, provoke an emotional reaction, or place the group into a quagmire.
Pandora’s box openers like to discuss anything that will strike a nerve or provoke people’s emotional responses. They like to go where other members of the meeting know it would be better not to go. They bring up issues from past meetings that have been resolved, but not to their liking.
They like to divert the topic to something different, detracting from the agenda. Thus, one minute you are on target and adhering to the agenda and the next minute … who knows! However, you can be sure it will not be the topic at hand.
Such people are unable to make decisions. They like to consider all points of view and hate to disagree with anyone. They hate conflict and healthy debate, avoiding it at all costs. It’s difficult to see what point these people are trying to make during a discussion, while their ambivalence is frustrating and slows down a meeting.
He or she believes they are the only one who has knowledge and the correct answers on any given subject.
They believe that everyone else is there to hear them speak. Thus, they prattle on, in the belief that their ideas are the only important ones, and don’t give anyone else a look in.
Such masters of negativity tend to use phrases like “we’ve tried that before and it failed”, or “that won’t work”. The cynic sees everything from a negative perspective.
Attackers are bullies. They attack the person rather than the issue, have no concern about hurting other people’s feelings, are confrontational and have no regard for others.
These people will bend over backwards to ingratiate themselves with the boss. They are smarmy and sickly sweet, agree with everything the boss says, and have no backbone or ideas of their own.
These people irritate me the most. They cannot live without technology and bring mobile phones, pagers, iPads and laptops to meetings, where they access their e-mails every few minutes. It’s not only a distraction for the user, but for others at the meeting.
Anne Good is a professional executive, career and life coach and conducts sessions face-to-face or via Skype. If you have a related question for Anne that you would like answered in the next issue or in private, please contact her: