When strong emotions are stirred up during a meeting, they can completely derail the meeting and steer it away from its goals. Defensiveness and anger have no place in a business meeting. They can only damage it and they never produce good results.
Since the meeting room isn’t the place for outbursts and meltdowns, strong emotions have to be managed well.
There is less chance for emotional explosions in a meeting that’s tightly structured. Prepare the meeting well and create a detailed schedule. Try to anticipate which areas may be emotional and create a contingency plan for dealing with them if trouble arises.
When strong emotions erupt, try to handle it calmly. Start by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. What are they feeling that is causing the outburst? Rather than condemning them for letting their emotions get the best of them, try to see the situation through their eyes. Remember that they are “right” in their mind.
If you can see it through the other person’s eyes, you’ll better understand how to defuse the situation. You can also let them know that you understand, and this can also calm them down.
Take a Break
A great strategy for dealing with strong emotions during meetings is to simply take a break and cool down. This is the business meeting version of counting down from ten and taking deep breaths.
Leave the meeting room and let everyone go their separate way so that they can decompress. Give it five or ten minutes, or however much time you deem necessary for everyone to cool down and process their emotions. Come back to the meeting when everyone is feeling more calm and collected.
Apologise Quickly and Easily
It’s very easy for people who are emotionally intelligent to say that they’re sorry. These simple words can defuse many tense situations. An apology may be all the upset person wants to hear.
The outburst may not be your fault, but learn to apologise easily. Apologising shows sympathy and it shows that you understand how the other person feels.
Things get heated quickly when there are accusations and blame. Try never to blame someone in a meeting, even if they clearly did something wrong. This is almost sure to trigger defensiveness and all of the strong emotions that come with it. Instead, identify a problem that exists for the meeting to solve.
Know Your Own Emotions
Get to know your own emotions and emotional triggers. Even if a meeting gets out of hand, keep yourself calm and learn to deal with your emotions appropriately. Develop your own emotional intelligence and let it help you keep things under control.