Your meeting is about to start. The people you were expecting have all shown up, and you are ready with your tailor-made presentation which you know will result in getting the green-light to make necessary changes allowing your project to move forward.
A text comes in, and you quickly glance down to see the message. It’s a heads-up to warn you that an additional attendee is coming. It’s THAT person. You hear them coming down the hall, and the rest of your colleagues whisper “here comes the troublemaker!”
Oh no, you think, what was going to be an easy process, will now become disrupted or at worst derailed.
Troublemakers, who are they, and what do they do that makes them earn this label? See if any of these things make you nod in agreement:
They come in with one agenda (their own) and find every angle to shift the focus to this.
They are argumentative; it seems for no reason, always questioning you and your content.
They interrupt what felt like a flow of conversation, with information that you believe is irrelevant.
Their behaviour is predictably unpredictable, and you don’t know if they are going to mutter smart-alecky comments, disrupting those around them, or speak out and derail you in front of your colleagues.
When you start to think of what makes someone a troublemaker in a meeting – the list could become overwhelmingly long.
We can all identify the troublemakers in our lives, but have we thought about why someone is argumentative, and why they don’t seem to listen to what we have to say? Have we considered that the ‘noise’ they are making, might just be a clue that we might have missed something?
John Kotter in his book Leading Change, states:
‘people resist change because they’re afraid. But they also resist change if they perceive that it’s being done stupidly. If you can get them to understand how they can play a constructive part, sometimes it’s amazing what happens.’
So should we be seeing the troublemakers as trouble-shooters? If we let them speak up, might they be the key to managing risk, or creating an opportunity?
I’m sure there is a small percentage of people who are pure troublemakers; however, I’m with John Kotter. I think those who disrupt and distract our meetings, are looking for us to show how we have created an environment that allows them to connect with us as the presenter, and also to enable authentic opportunities for them to speak up and contribute. Do you agree?
Shirley Reeder is the Director of Brave Consulting Pty Ltd.
She loves to work with people who want to discover their Brave and then do something with it.