• Tara Humphrey

6 Top Tips to Effectively Manage Negativity In a Meeting

Updated: Jun 23


Have you ever been to a meeting and experienced someone dominate the meeting with negativity?


In the past, when confronted with this situation, I would have either got really frustrated or retreated, but over the years I have developed some tactics to move the conversation on without the negativity of others getting to me.


Here are my 6 top tips to deal with negativity in a meeting.


1. Listen and acknowledge the person. No one wants to feel ignored, and whether we like it or not, there is often an element of truth to what is being said. Also, appreciate that those with more year’s experience in their roles have seen constant the recycling of ideas which may not have got the results which they had hoped for. Its all valuable feedback.


2.Invite others to contribute to the discussion to move the focus.


3. Manage the time. I like to use the phrase "I’m conscious of the time, so can we revisit this another time?"


4. Sometimes making a light hearted joke can be used to defuse tension (but i suggest this with caution. This tactic is best for when you know each other well.


5. Ask for a solution. I often use the following phrases to help draw this out.

  • What do you propose?

  • How can we make this actionable?

  • How can we prevent this from happening again?

  • Do you have a solution?

The goal is to shift the energy in to a more positive state.


6. Call a comfort break. Ask people to take 5, and then once the meeting resumes, move on to the next point.


If you are the meeting Chair, no matter how experienced you are, managing negativity in meeting can be both challenging and draining so carefully plan your meeting using my checklist here. Also, if you are expecting a difficult meeting, ensure you allow some space before jumping in to the task so you can grab some fresh air and you can compose yourself.


We also have a Business of Healthcare podcast covering the subject of meetings. Click here How to Create Effective Meetings.