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How To Deal With Meeting Killers

When it�s time for a meeting, most companies have them: co-workers that hijack discussions, wander off topic, send texts, disrupt decision-making or behave in other dysfunctional ways.

The five most common disrupters come under these categories:

The Dominator

Crime: greatly overestimates value of his/her personal views

Modus operandi: disrupts discussion and induces information overkill

Level: first degree nuisance

The Quiet Plotter

Crime: practices passive-aggressive insubordination

Modus operandi: remains quiet at meetings, later undermines bosses and decisions

Level: first degree nuisance

The Naysayer

Crime: premeditated negativity

Modus operandi: waits until consensus is almost reached and retails meeting with major objections

Level: first degree nuisance

The Rambler

Crime: inflicts death by boredom

Modus operandi: takes discussions to far-away places so people forget why they�re there

Level: second degree nuisance

The Jokester

Crime: assault with a deadly punchline

Modus operandi: cracks jokes (appropriate or not) and awaits response from others

Lever: misdemeanor nuisance

Meetings are supposed to be a time of creative problem-solving, where the best ideas emerge. Yet even some of the best managers have a difficult time running them.

The following advice from executives, meeting planners and trainers, for accomplishing productive meetings that�ll get more done include:

  • Limit the number of meetings scheduled.

  • Set a clear agenda.

  •  Impose a �no device� rule or schedule periodic tech breaks for e-mail, texts and phone calls.

  • Redirect people back to the agenda when they ramble or digress.

  • Draw out quiet people by asking them in advance for a specific contribution.

  • Do a �round robin� when appropriate, to allow everyone to contribute.

  • Ask early for objections to keep them from derailing discussions later.

  •  Limit the length of slide presentations.

  • Interrupt people who talk too long or talk to each other.

  • Set an ending time for the meeting and stick to it.

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