“Things didn’t get nasty,” Ron reported, “but, I think it’s because I put the brakes on the meeting, and simply adjourned it pretty quickly.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Two of our managers went after each other in the meeting. One complained about the other in front of the rest of the executive team. That immediately turned into defensiveness. I stopped the conversation from escalating and told everyone we would pick this up next Monday.”
“Timeouts are not necessarily bad, especially when the emotions speak so loudly that we cannot even hear the words. But, tell me what impact this had on the rest of the team? What did this exchange teach them about how things work around the company?”
“Well, for one thing, it clearly communicated that I will not tolerate rude or insulting behavior,” Ron explained.
“And, what else did it teach them?”
“That if the behavior persists, I will shut it down. I won’t tolerate it and I will take action.”
“And, what else?” I pressed.
“You have something in mind when you ask the same question three times,” Ron chuckled.
I nodded yes.
“Okay. The team learned that when things get rough in a management meeting, where emotions surface in the conversation, we will avoid the confrontation and kick the can down the road.”
“Now, we are getting somewhere,” I said.