I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling that some people have habits that make attending a meeting with them just plain difficult and non-productive. It seems that there are always one or two people that show up without any real interest in being there or contributing anything of relevance.
I’ve listed some of the behaviors below that really annoy me. See if you can relate to any that you have seen for yourself. It might also be a good exercise to look at your own meeting habits to ensure that you are not the one who is doing the distracting, however remote that possibility might be.
- Always speaking or taking center stage like they are the only one with the answers or worse, thinking that they have all the answers.
- Texting or sending emails during the meeting without concern about what is going on. The only important thing for this person is reading, responding and keeping up on their emails.
- Making little or no effort to contribute any ideas or offer input during the meeting. This way they can remain untouched when ideas go askew or conflict erupts.
- Interrupting or speaking over others. They are more interested in speaking rather than listening. They do not see their side conversations as a meeting disruption or distraction.
- Making negative comments or telling inappropriate jokes that distract others and disrupt the meeting. The fact that not everyone in the room shares their humor or opinion seems to be of little interest to them.
One of my business coaching clients recently asked for my thoughts on the following scenario. He said that as a team leader, it was necessary to conduct regular meetings to ensure that all team members were kept up-to-date on the progress of the project.
One of his direct reports always shows up, offers little in the way of update and delivers a steady stream of one-liner wisecracks to lighten the mood of the meeting.
I suggested a private meeting with the individual giving him some clear guidance as to what is or is not acceptable during the meetings as well as consequences if he chooses to continue the disruptive behavior. Last I heard, the staff member now routinely gives updates, has stopped the wisecracks and has become a more productive member in the meetings.