Productive meetings can turn sour at the drop of a hat. You’ve probably experienced this before—a meeting chugging along until a participant team member raises something that divides the rest of the group. In this case, meetings can render themselves useless with constant and endless arguing. In this article, Adam Ferrari, CEO of Ferrari Energy, discusses how to get back on track in these deadlocked meetings, whether remote or in-person.
When groups are especially divided on an issue, sometimes it can be easy to lose track of how decisions are made in the first place. In a deadlocked meeting, it can be beneficial to take a step back and identify what criteria the company uses to make informed choices. Typical criteria include ease of implementation, likely approval or disapproval by upper management, cost-effectiveness, and impact of the problems.
One of the most frequent reasons that deadlock meetings occur is because there is a misunderstanding among team members about shared company goals. It’s essential to communicate strategies in place so that individuals know exactly what they are working towards. While this may seem obvious, you’d be shocked how many times deadlocked meetings can be resolved by re-evaluating company-wide objectives.
You might feel that it is evident that one individual is wrong, and you (or someone else) is objectively right. While this may be true, shutting down someone’s opinion will never produce an adequate response. When people feel antagonized, they tend to root themselves deeper in their own opinion.
A good strategy in this situation is to open the discussion to every member of the meeting. Ask everyone present to weigh in so that it takes the burden of the parties engaged explicitly in the argument. This perspective usually leads to a more common understanding and allows individuals who are deadlocking the meeting to take a step back and consider options with less emotion.
There is a real difference in identifying what potential options are best rather than what potential options have the support. Let’s say, for example, there are three options on the table. You might think that option number two is best, but you would support options two and three. You may then discover that many people have support behind idea number three, even if they don’t think it’s necessarily the best-case scenario.
By using this approach to acceptance standards, you can get more people on board without sacrificing the productivity of the project to come. In business, people are used to compromising and are usually willing to work towards a goal that they support even if they don’t believe it’s the best particular route to take.
Deadlocked meetings can be extremely frustrating. Through establishing selection criteria, giving everyone a say, and changing your acceptance standards, you can work through these stand-offs in both remote and in-person environments. Your time is valuable—don’t waste it in endless, meaningless arguments!
Adam Ferrari is the founder of the mineral acquisitions company Ferrari Energy. He is a chemical engineer by degree and is an accomplished petroleum engineer by profession. He also has experience in the financial sector through his work at an investment banking firm. Under his leadership, his company has supported numerous charitable organizations including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Freedom Service Dogs, Denver Rescue Mission, Coats for Colorado, and Next Steps of Chicago.