The person running the meeting needs to be proactive and develop a strong game plan before the meeting starts. A clear and concise agenda including a time-frame should be sent to members for review before the meeting. This allows the members to develop a clear understanding of what will be occurring. This can be extremely helpful to targets so they the know topics that will be discussed.
The leader should work with the members to identify and mutually agree upon rules for the meeting. This effective tool can prevent bad behavior and helps the leader keep the meeting on track. These can include things, such as taking turn to speak, maintaining an appropriate tone of voice, and/or not interrupting one another. These seem like basic rules that professionals should understand. However, in organizations, where persistent workplace aggression occurs, it is likely that the aggressor uses these types of behaviors to intimidate and harass the target.
It is important that the guidelines are mutually agreed upon because this helps to create an environment of being cooperative with one another rather than adversarial. The leader can also refer back to the rules if anyone’s behavior becomes problematic rather than appearing as if she/he is taking sides. For example, the leader can say “Jan, I understand that you are getting frustrated and your point of view is important, but we all agreed that we would not interrupt one another. I will get to you as soon as John is done speaking.”
Leaders need to make sure that they maintain a sense of control over the meeting and that bad behavior is restricted before it escalates. The leader should be prepared to discontinue the meeting if problematic behavior becomes out of hand. This sends a clear message to the aggressor(s) and the target that aggressive behavior is not tolerated.
Leaders also need to be highly attentive to everyone in the meeting including their verbal and non-verbal behavior. Are side conversations happening? Who is dominating the conversation? Who is not participating? Who sits by whom? The observation of these behaviors by the leader provides insight into what is happening in their organization. It can also lead to the effective solutions that can help stop and even prevent persistent workplace aggression.
If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at email@example.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there.