The Mobsters Who Will Rob Your Meeting - Blog Top Image

The Mobsters Who Will Rob Your Meeting

Who's in Your Meetings?

You've probably met each and every one of these folks. Maybe you sat next to a Silent Sal in your Tuesday afternoon project meeting. Maybe Indecisive Irving sat across from you at the last team meeting.

With so many meetings, and so many different behaviors that can distract us, we have to know what to do when they show up when we’re trying to collaborate. We have a few tips that we hope will help you prepare for and facilitate your next meeting if you happen to meet the following characters...


Silent Sal

cute-pupil-paying-attention-classroomWhat does he look like?

He’ll be at your meeting, but you might not even notice since he rarely speaks up or contributes to the conversation—even though he has something to say! He might even appear to be “checked out,” to the point where you find yourself asking why he’s even there. Of all the personalities, Silent Sal can be one of the trickiest behaviors to deal with, especially during brainstorming and risk identification conversations.


What should you do?

One way is to find his style and vary the activity or input structure. Can you get him to weigh in during a 1:1 conversation? Via email? If the right format is a group meeting, could you have everyone jot down thoughts or ideas on sticky notes to share together? Also consider if he might be intimidated by the setting or someone else in the room. Figure out his communication preference and meet him where he is.


Snarky Sammy

employees-gossiping-about-young-female-colleague-1What does he look like?

Snarky Sammy is a real wise guy. Essentially, he’s a camouflaged bully. He’ll use snark to undercut your authority and derail the conversation. You might hear him saying “I told you so.” Keep an ear open for sarcasm or biting jabs and you’ll probably make a pretty quick positive identification.


What should you do?

Chances are Sammy uses sarcasm as a defense technique or as small asides. He doesn’t like to be center stage, so call him out. Ask him if he has something to say to the group about the agenda item at hand. Redirecting and encouraging him to share his comments with the rest of the group might help bring Steve on board, and make him feel like part of the group, but at the very least it will likely put some of his snark to bed.


Rambling Rudy

11460What does he look like?

Rudy will push his way through a conversation, making sure his voice is heard. He might not necessarily have particularly insightful contributions. Listen for loud, overbearing, overpowering, and disruptive comments or tangents, with little to no authority.


What should you do?

As the facilitator, you have several options. One is to set meeting norms, an agreed set of rules by which your meeting will operate. Plan ahead for any Rudys and make sure that one of your norms is about sharing the floor. Maybe you even have a tool or gadget that symbolizes “I have the floor” with a timer on it. Also consider using Parking Lots so you can capture Rudy's input and move on.


Indecisive Irving

young-woman-has-apologized-look-spreads-her-handsWhat does he look like?

As his name implies, Irving cannot make a decision to save his soul. He waffles, hesitates, says that someone else has to make the call because it’s not his to make, says something tentatively, then changes his mind.


What should you do?

Prepare him ahead of time. Make sure he understands his role in the decision, and the resources available to him to consult well in advance. Use decision making tools to help Irving decide. The better prepared he is before the meeting, and the more tools he has at his fingertips, the more decisive he will be when you need him to make the call.


Is there anyone else you've met at your meetings that we haven't mentioned here? Let us know in the comments or on social media! 


Topics: Sinikka Waugh, Communication & Collaboration, Meeting Management & Facilitation

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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