Meeting Disruption

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Disruptions of meetings can come in many different forms. Cutting people off, changing subjects, expressing sarcasm, and challenging almost everything said are all examples of such disruptions. These actions are an attempt to take over a meeting or undermine leadership and can result in an unsuccessful meeting and wasted time. Luckily, there are actions that a manager can take both before and during a meeting to prevent the disruptions from ruining the meeting.

Whenever it’s possible a manager should anticipate disruptions and try to prevent them from occurring. Several options to help prevent disruptions include: asking the potential disruptor for his cooperation before the meeting, structure the meeting to include discussions, if possible, remove the items that may cause the disruptions from the agenda, make the potential disruptor aware of consequences for his actions, and giving the potential disruptor a special assignment during the meeting to keep him distracted.

However, it’s not always possible to stop disruptions from occurring, so a manager needs to be able to stop them once they occur. A good way to control disruptions during a meeting is to only allow one person to speak at a time and to have designated time for questions whether it’s after each topic or at the end of the meeting. If someone tries to interrupt the meeting with a topic that’s not on the agenda, simply let him know that now isn’t the time for that and you’ll be happy to discuss it with him after the meeting.
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