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Fact: Businesses hold Meetings

Author: Anne-Maria Brown

Posted on: July 2015

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My plan is to have a productive meeting.  The team members have been invited and the agenda has been sent out.  The meeting room has been booked and everyone has turned up. 
Then suddenly when I’m least expecting it, someone interrupts and tries to steal my meeting. 
How am I going to get back to the agenda?  Can I still finish on time?
Has this happened to you?  Has a colleague disagreed with you in a meeting?  Perhaps a colleague has come to the meeting with the aim of bringing up their own agenda?  Whatever the reason, when someone interrupts a meeting, it is important to deal with the situation.
I’ve learnt that the first thing to do is to start off prepared for the meeting, have an agenda which is structured and will serve as a reference.  Colleagues are less likely to disrupt a meeting if they have been involved at the start.  I always send out the agenda and ask for input.
Although I get annoyed and frustrated I know that when interrupted or challenged not to show that I am upset.  I know that I will lose the trust and support of everyone in the room if I can’t be the leader.  My aim is to be friendly and assertive.  Remember, don’t attempt to ignore the interruption – otherwise it will only get worse.  Let the person know that they have been heard and then you can move forward. 
If they have interrupted with something unrelated then redirecting the discussion back can be done by restating the purpose of the meeting. 
Perhaps they have a valid point.  I could ask them how their comment relates to the meeting.  Engage the discussion and make sure that I'm not just dismissing someone who doesn’t agree with me.
If a colleague continues to interrupt, is bringing up unrelated topics, or keeps making the same point over and over then it is time to be direct and firm.  Get the meeting back and track and offer to discuss it with them after the meeting.
When having a conversation after the meeting don’t argue with the person.  They want to be heard and may have something valid to say.  It could be that I will find myself agreeing when a one to one conversation takes place.
But at the end of the day (and this happens to everyone) you may just agree to disagree!

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