We’ve all had them: meetings or conversations at work which have become uncomfortable, inappropriate, unacceptable.
Difficult discussions are an expected part of working life and challenge can be healthy when handled professionally and with empathy. However there may be a point when challenging tips over to aggressive.
A meeting may become awkward with colleagues’ behaviour being demeaning, embarrassing or bullying. Emotions take over and rationality evaporates.
We cannot control others’ behaviours, but can choose how we respond. It can be difficult in the heat of the moment to respond, so having strategies and phrases in advance can be helpful.
Challenge the behaviour:
- I am finding your behaviour inappropriate.
- Are you aware your behaviour is coming across as aggressive?
Ask for time:
- I feel we need to take a pause in this meeting.
- I would like a moment to reflect on what has been discussed so far.
Bring the meeting to a close:
- I am not comfortable continuing this meeting and would like to stop and reconvene tomorrow.
- This meeting has become unfocused and we should arrange to continue the discussion at another time.
Leave with dignity:
- I refuse to be spoken to like this.
- We will continue this meeting after we have had time to reflect.
Remember you are a person and you should always have the right to be treated with respect and humanity at work.