Dealing with jerks at a meeting

Well, they might not really be jerks. They might just have questions or they might even be agreeing with you. But under the pressure of presenting, when someone seems to attack your message, it’s easy feel that way and to try to shut them down, interrupt them, or otherwise get around them. At least, that’s what sometimes happened (or still happens) to me.

Here are some of the ways that help me take a different perspective:

1. Pause and listen. Sometimes what you think they are saying is not what they are saying. Take a breath. Try not to interrupt.

2. Consider the rest of the audience. If someone really is a jerk, you aren’t going to change them. The important people in the room are the ones who are listening to the interchange. Don’t alienate them by getting into an argument or being petty.

3. Don’t be angry. Before you respond, think to yourself “I can’t believe how much I like you.” It can change what might otherwise be an antagonistic response.

4. Go back to your message. Remember that your goal is to get your message across, not to respond to every comment. Try to pivot their question back to your message. Responding in too much detail is sending their message, not yours. Remember that your message is not made only of your facts, it’s also about who you are as a person. Respond wisely.

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