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4 Things To Do When There’s Tension In the Room

The team I was meeting with was split 50/50 on the decision in front of us, and the longer

the conversation took place the greater the tension increased. Eventually we were all able to

arrive at a decision that honestly was best for everyone involved—but, if I had broken one of

these rules as the leader we might not have gotten there.

1. Don’t try to immediately resolve the tension.

We must get past the idea that meetings should be fun, happy, special events with songs,

unicorns, and cotton candy!

The bottom line in meetings is this:

If you have leaders, then every single one of them has an opinion that they are willing to

fight for, and when their opinion doesn’t match up with someone else’s, sparks will fly!

Which is AWESOME because a lot of issues are resolved as a result of the room becoming a

little tense.

2. Don’t try to make everyone happy.

One of the worst things a leader can do is try to please everyone in a meeting—which is

tough because if you are anything like me you HATE unresolved tension. However, if the

people you have at the table are big boys and girls they really can work it out.

Besides, someone COULD BE WRONG—and to try and make them happy is nothing more

than you allowing yourself to facilitate dysfunction!

3. Don’t try to change the subject.

Early on as I leader, I did this a lot!

An issue would be thrown out, tempers would flare, and I would call for a break or try to go

on to something else.

Which was never a good thing! When true feelings about a topic come out—that is the BEST

time to drill down on whatever issue is out there and deal with it. Pretending it isn’t there

does nothing more than actually allow for tension to exist WAY beyond the meeting.

Because when people are spending more time talking about an issue at the water cooler


rather than the meeting table, the entire organization will eventually be plagued with

dysfunction.

4. Don’t get angry at anyone.

Confession—I love to see a good argument...

...especially in a meeting room.

I love to see fire and passion. And yes, I even love it when people argue with me. (By the

way, the argument should never become a personal attack—that’s a sign of immaturity!)

And so, when tension exists in the room I don’t feel the need to lecture—I actually feel the

need to learn.

You can learn a lot about the people at your leadership table by merely sitting back and

observing what they are willing to fight for. (And if you don’t have anyone who ever fights,

then for goodness sakes...START ONE!)

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