How an impartial external chair manages difficult situations in challenging meetings
Ever been in a situation where a very insistent person does not agree with how a meeting is heading and refuses to accept the will of the majority? Their tactic is to keep asking questions that are designed to rattle the group so the discussion and decisions go their way.
They only see their point of view and are unable to see things for the greater good of the group.
As an impartial chair for these types of meetings for over 35 years, David Julian Price has learned that the best way to deal with people like this is to let them have their say.
Yes, you read correctly. Let them have their say.
Start by getting them onside, by getting them to agree with you. Use meeting procedure processes and protocols to clarify the situation as they see it. The key is to ask relevant questions so they can see you’re being fair to the whole group, including them. This reduces conflict as it shows there’s no bias, and allows the meeting to progress steadily.
An example of how this is managed can be found here.
Make sure you’ve done your research and understand the group dynamics well in advance.
Whether you chair a business, board or community group meeting, this guide works for any type of meeting.
Before diving in, get your meeting ducks in a row….
- As chair, understand and embrace your organisation’s Ground Rules. This will save you a lot of pain later. Revisit and update them regularly. You may need to create some ground rules.
- Learn the techniques experienced chairs use.
- Define what consensus means in your organisation and make sure it’s workable. A community group David worked with years ago had identified consensus as 100% in their constitution, which was unworkable. They could not agree and could not make any decisions. The group had to fold and restart under a different constitution and name. A more realistic definition of consensus is where a minimum of 80% of the group agrees with a decision, and the rest can live with it.
- Understand the service-power continuum in your organisation and choose the right people to fit this ethos.
If you need expert help navigating your next AGM or board meeting, or need guidance on how to define and write your organisation’s Ground Rules, I’m at the other end of an email or phone. I’d love to chat with you.