"You have to coach people on the behaviors you want in meetings. But you have to coach them on what you don't want, too. You might think this isn't needed, but I'm telling you it is.
Stress brings out the worst in all of us. It's human nature. The more people get comfortable with one another, the more they tend to let their guards down. They can come across as rude or negative, and they can be defensive or self-serving.
- If people cut others off or they interrupt, or they tend to pontificate or lecture others, or they ignored or exclude people from their conversations, they're being rude.
- If people pass the buck or live in the past or hide behind sacred cows, those are ways of being defensive.
- If people are judgmental or they quickly discount what others have to say or break out the sarcasm, they're being negative.
There's other ways to be negative, too, non-verbal ways.
- You can cross your arms, you can look the other way, you can avoid eye contact. Those need to be brought up as well.
- And if people are riding the coattails of others, if they're kissing up or trying to one up everybody else, they're being self-serving.
When people are perceived as being self serving, negative, defensive, or rude, others are going to discount everything they say. These people are going to become a pariah and a distraction in the meetings.
That's not the way people want to be perceived, so you want to help them become more self-aware. Most behaviors are subconscious because they're reflexive. They're bad habits we're not aware of. We don't stop and think about what we're thinking and saying. We just say it.
So when you're coaching meeting skills, encourage people to stop and think. And offer them an alternative to the bad behavior. Here's an example. Instead of discounting what people have to say, they can ask for examples so they can better understand what people are saying. It's a much more productive way of going about interacting in a meeting.
So if people are trying to break some bad meeting habits, they've got to take it off autopilot. That's the only way to stop the bad habit. Then they have to have a substitute behavior. That's the only way to promote a good habit. The more specific you can be about the behaviors you want and those you won't accept, the better."
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