November 30, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Saeed
“In each of us there is another whom we do not know.” ~ Carl Jung
A meeting is not a meeting without its attendees and the obligatory challenges that sometimes go along with their personality types. Below is a list of 10 archetypes I’ve come across during my 30 years of facilitating meetings and how to handle each of them. I’ve listed the traits from most positive to most negative based on my experience.
This list is not intended to be comprehensive but rather to capture the most common types.
Here is my challenge to the reader: Once you’ve read the list, name a ‘personality type’ you’ve encountered that doesn’t fit into one of the ten in the comments below. Bonus points go to those who also mention how to handle the type.
And here we go…
1. The Leader: Proactive, confident, creative. First to jump in. Solution oriented. Use them to jumpstart discussions and be sure to actively recognize and praise their contribution.
2. The Supporter: Creates a positive atmosphere and supports others’ ideas and suggestions. They may find it hard to give honest feedback they see as being critical. Their reservations and doubts will have to be solicited.
3. The Diplomat: Will defuse conflict before it goes too far and can bring everyone back to a central focus or mutual goals. They can become frustrated if the meeting becomes too conflict ridden. Maximize their involvement as they are a key ally in a successful result.
4. The Quiet One: It’s not a lack of interest or engagement but probably a lack of confidence or empowerment that keeps this personality type mostly quiet. Directly and positively engage or talk to them prior to the meeting to get their thoughts and encourage them to share the valuable ones during the meeting.
5. The Distracted One: They are cell phone junkies obsessed with checking their inbox. It may be that asking them to turn off their cell phone is akin to asking them to turn off their oxygen tank but nonetheless you can politely create a ground rule that says cell phones used for emergencies only.
6. The All Knowing One: They must flex their knowledge on every topic at every turn and often waste time and go into unnecessary tangents. You may have to directly return them to the point at hand and use other tactics that are effective with The Talker.
7. The Interrupter: Get ready for frequent and repeated interruptions that could easily ‘go viral.’ Direct intervention is usually needed to remind this person that others need to finish their point prior to response. They do need recognition and reassurance that they will be heard.
8. The Talker: It takes a long time for the talker to get to their central point because of their tangents and over-sharing of unnecessary details. You may have to proactively ask them to keep their comments targeted or summarize their point for them respectfully. They may also veer into side discussions so ground rules that specifically address side conversations may also be needed to avoid frequent interruptions.
9. The Monopolizer: With their large ego, they will dominate, monopolize, and hijack the discussion. They think highly of themselves and by extension, less so of others. They are impatient and prompt intervention is needed so they don’t derail the meeting. Expect counter-reactions when the attempt is made to give them boundaries. The best approach is to be stoic and make consistent reference to time constraints and the need for everyone to equally contribute their ideas.
10. The Critic: They are quick to criticize but unfortunately don’t have solutions of their own to offer. They can also veer off into the personal if overly empowered. As above, this needs to be ‘nipped in the bud’ before it escalates and derails the agenda. But a direct confrontation is not recommended. Instead, gently ask them explain the specific reasons why they disagree and propose their alternative forcing them to justify their negative comments.
One Final Word…
Once again, it should be noted that the above list of archetypes and countermeasures is by no means an exhaustive list. It is not meant to be. It is, however, meant to capture the ones you may come across more often.
Have I missed a type you’ve encountered? Add to the list by naming one in the comments below. Bonus points for those who offer a tip on how to handle the type.
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5 Replies to “The 10 Personality Types You will Encounter in a Meeting and How to Handle Them”
As always, I really appreciate reading your work, mainly from commercial negotiations, which as been my playground for 10 years now.
Where would you put the destructive participant who’s standard modus is to derail and shift the purpose of the negotiations to his/her own in a very distructive and sometimes aggressive and unprofessional way. I’ve encountered so many variations of that over the years. And what’s really intreaguing is that some of them are just people with personalities that work that way (i.e. no hope of improving the situation) and others may just have a difficult background situation (e.g. pressure from management above or other pressing targets).
All in all, it’s fascinating how we humans interact!
I see that part of my comment was deleted 🙂
In the first paragraph it should say:
I really appreciate reading your work, thank you! My experience is mainly from commercial negotiations (…)
Thank you for your readership and kind support.
Your question is a good one. In these situations, one thing you have to recognize is that you can’t change who they are and all you can do is be in control of your own emotions. You have to rise above them and also know how to set limits with these types. Being proactive is key. This means establishing boundaries and guard rails for the discussion before hand. This way, if they go off the rails, you can remind them of where the parameters are. These types are also always focused on the problem and on being critical. Note before the meeting or discussion that you/we are going to be solution oriented and stay that way throughout the conversation. It takes time and experience to know how to handle these situations effectively. Be confident, be self assured and don’t let anyone limit your joy, no matter how snarky they may be. In the end, if you stay consistent, stand in your own truth, and act out of integrity and sincerity, it is they who will self-destruct.I hope that helps:)
Thank you Saeed!
I agree with your approach 🙂
My dad used to summarize it as “pretend that you are in an under water swimming contest and your counterpart in the negotiations is your opponent. Enjoy the swim as always and it will end well!”
But to go back to professional terminology, setting the frame and the rules does help and so does being unconditionally constructive.
…your father was very wise. He also taught me how to swim when I was a child – literally. I think you don’t know this but I used to look up to him very much. He was a role model for me. Intelligent. Handsome. Kind. Courageous. He is always in my heart.