Disruptive can mean a lot of things including; sarcastic comments; negativity; talking over other people; not paying attention; not being open to change or talking down ideas.


Why does this behaviour need dealing with? Because it can bring the team down and affect the culture of the team.


What happens if we do nothing? Nothing doesn’t actually mean nothing. Doing nothing is a behavioural choice and can be interpreted as a reward or an indication that the behaviour is acceptable. If we do nothing the person usually thinks that it is alright to continue.


So if we choose to do something what can we do?


1. Give them responsibility in the meeting; this could be any job which will keep them busy and give them a degree of responsibility for the success of the meeting, so it could be as time keeper, chair, agenda keeper etc.


2. Talk to them after the meeting; describe to them the behaviour you observed and the reaction of the other people in the team. Mention their good points and how this is spoilt by the behaviour in the meeting. You can also say that you will pick them up on this every time it happens as it spoils the meeting. Then if they don’t do it so much in the next meeting you can praise them for it.


3. If you have agreed a culture for your team then after the meeting have a conversation with them. Remind them of the culture they all agreed to have and that this continues in meetings. Then describe the behaviour you observed and how this does not fit within the culture.


4. In case they do not agree with your observations of their behaviour or the interpretations of it, you must work out the specific behaviours which you think are offensive. So if they make sarcastic comments, work out what it is about the comment which makes it sarcastic. This may not always be needed but it is useful to practice.


5. Talk to them either during or after the meeting and ask if they have a legitimate concern. For example they may say in the meeting something like, ‘We tried that before and it didn’t work’. In this case you need to go over again the logic of why you are taking the approach and why the circumstances or the approach are different this time.


Whatever you decide to do, doing nothing is not an option as it may well reward the behaviour.


Please let me know of your experiences with your team meetings.

What can we do about members of the team who are disruptive in meetings?