ReVision Insights

How to Handle Disrupters

You’ve just been appointed facilitator for the next meeting, but you know that if it’s to be successful, you’ll have to rein in a few troublemakers. Here are descriptions of four particularly difficult types of meeting disrupters and how to handle them. 

The repeaters.
These people bring up the same issues and points over and over again. Assure them that their points have been made and recorded on specific pages of the minutes. If they persist, give them three minutes to wrap up, and then move on. 

The headshakers. 
They shake their heads, roll their eyes, or scribble notes furiously after someone has said something. Acknowledge their disagreement as if they had said something loud. Ask them to share their views. This often is enough to make head shakers become aware of and control their gestures. 

The talkers.
What makes talkers particularly difficult is that they’re usually senior people and decision-makers. Try moving closer and closer to them while they talk, maintaining eye contact, until you’re standing right in front of them. Your standing position and their sitting position often makes them aware of their behavior, and they’ll stop talking. 

The busybodies.
Like loudmouths, busybodies are likely to be senior executives or managers. They’re constantly running out of the meeting to answer important calls. But every time they run out, the meeting either halts or they need to be briefed. Deal with busybodies before a meeting. Explain to them how disruptive their behavior is and get them to commit to a set amount of uninterrupted time.