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Dealing with BIG Personalities: Two Solutions


Ever been in one of those meetings where a few personalities dominate the space?  They talk louder than everyone else, all you hear are their thoughts and their ideas.  At the same time, the quieter, more passive members in the meeting feel shut out and no one else can get a word in.  Well, unless you’re the one who’s stealing the show, you walk out of those meetings feeling anxious, bitter, and irritated at the leader of the meeting for letting this happen.  So what to do?


Let’s say the team has a decision to make.  The meeting agenda that went out to everyone stated: the purpose of this meeting is to debate and decide upon new pricing.  You invited six people to the meeting because each of them brings a unique and valuable perspective.


As soon as everyone sits down, you give these directions:

“We’re going to take five minutes and I want is to get your individual ideas about how you think we should adjust our pricing.  I want more than a percentage of increase; I also want to hear why you think the percentage you’re proposing is right.”


HOWEVER, instead of opening the discussion, you pass out a sheet of paper to each participant and as them to back up their comments with some pros and cons, and the whys and the why not’s, etc. You then tell them that they have five minutes to write it down, and THEN you have them pass the papers forward to me to be discussed.


This technique accomplishes three things: 1, it forces everyone to take a step back and actually do some thinking; 2, it gives every voice in the meeting an equal chance to get heard; and 3, once everyone’s ideas and thoughts are written down and collected, you now have the opportunity to control the discussion that takes place in this meeting.


Another approach, is to start the meeting by saying:

“I’m going to give each person three interruption free minute in which to share our thoughts on pricing and why.”  Again, by doing this you immediately make everybody on the team more thoughtful.  The BIG voices who tend to shout out responses are instead forced to stay in line, and those usually inclined to be passive are equally forced to stand up and speak their mind.


It matters not which of these two approaches work.  Instead it matters that you have equalized the voices in the meeting and exerted more control over the entire group.


However, most important is the fact that you made sure you got the best thinking from everyone in the group.  Now you can make a completely informed decision from an equal and unbiased footing.



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