The Art Of Dealing With Difficult People In Meetings

We are in 1917, at the Council of Ministers… The ageing President Clemenceau is masterfully leading the meeting when all of a sudden two young ministers start whispering behind his back: “They say he has gone absolutely senile”. The old man turned around and put them back in their place with a mocking smile: “They also say he is completely deaf!” As you can see, identifying difficult people and dealing with them in meetings is an art of its own…

The Arrogant One

Unlike our two young presumptuous ministers, the Arrogant One has no equals when it comes down to disrupting a meeting. All his actions are thought-through as he deliberately sabotages the smooth discussions in order to put you into his shadow. Although in some cases he may not even be aware of his undermining attitude. After all, what’s wrong with demonstrating his wisdom and genius in the middle of a meeting?

How to deal with him? To spill a cup of scorching hot coffee on him is probably not the best idea! But a sharp comment made with a hint of humor should do the trick and cool the cheeky fellow…

The Naysayer

You may go ahead and propose the idea of the century; the Naysayer will not crack a smile! Pessimistic by nature, he will see only difficulties that are bound to bring your project to a dead end, be they real or imaginary! I wonder why he reminds me of my mother…

How to deal with him? We should warn you beforehand, the Naysayer is one of the most difficult people to deal with during a meeting! Be patient and prepare multiple arguments that will reassure him.

Or you could try another option: announce a brainstorming session and ask everyone to make a list of the strengths of the project and to then like the ideas of others. What better way to add a bit of optimism to the Naysayers mindset?

The Yes Man

Remember when you were little and were constantly told: « Do not contradict the elders, it’s impolite!”? The Yes Man learns this childhood lesson by heart and will never dare to object to anything during a meeting. Whether your propositions are bold or conventional, you will always get the Yes Man’s support. It’s easy to think that the participation of such a person is useless…

How to deal with him? Test his limits! There is an opponent in every one of us! To bring out this side of the Yes Man, offer to hold an anonymous vote. Or you could even ask him to play the role of the devil’s advocate for one meeting. Results are guaranteed!

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