Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

Five Tips for Managing Aggressive Meeting Attendees

Aggressive attendees are people who seek to dominate the meeting without the right to do so, or derail the conversation. As a leader, it’s important that you know how to manage these types of people.  Here are five tips for managing aggressive meeting attendees.
  1. Ask them a question. People act aggressively because they feel their voice isn’t being heard. Ask them: "Why do you feel that way?" to enable them to speak their opinion without ruminating on it. This shows your willingness to hear them out, and that their point of view is valued.
  2. Say "Thank you." For the benefit of the meeting, it’s sometimes best to not give the aggressive attendee extra attention. In this case, you can still show them they’re being heard by thanking them sincerely for their input, and then turning your attention to others in the meeting.
  3. Provide attendees with a pre-circulated meeting agenda. A clear agenda with meeting goals stated up front will provide focus for the conversation, and help prevent the meeting from getting derailed.
  4. Clarify the time and place. In addition to thanking a person, you can tell them "This isn’t the meeting to discuss that topic." Then provide them with information about where and when that issue can be addressed. This is easiest if you have already provided an agenda.
  5. Have a private conversation before the meeting. If possible, speak to the known aggressive attendee prior to the meeting to get them on your side before they are in a group environment.
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