Bullied in meetings? Strategies for handling strong characters.

So often you meet headstrong, self-assured, brusque people in meetings. If they are more senior in the hierarchy than you are they can often be intimidating even bullying and, more often than not, get their own way.

How do you cope in these situations?

It is important to build a strategy before engaging so that you maintain your composure and control.

Sometimes they might appear to be bullying their point of view across when actually they are passionate about their view and they have taken the time to think it through completely. If you are less prepared than they are, watch out, because any argument you put up will be refuted immediately; and if you think about it for a second, quite rightly so. The first step in your coping strategy should be to ensure that you are well researched, have your opinions well-formed and have your arguments for and against well-rehearsed.

Once you are ready to challenge, make sure you have the conviction to make the challenge. If you are half-hearted in your approach, it will not matter how strong your argument is, you will lose because your adversary will find the chink in your armour and exploit it.

Before you make the challenge, make sure you understand what is at stake. Sometimes it is better to lose a battle in order to win the war. If your opponent has a lot to lose based on the outcome you need to make sure that there is an alternative way out for them so that they do not lose face. A good strategy is to work backwards from your desired outcome. If you can determine the options and the pros and cons at each stage it may be possible to argue for your desired outcome in an entirely different way such that everyone has something to gain rather than getting adversarial.

Another important aspect of your strategy should be to understand your options should you fail to win the argument. You need to consider the possible outcomes and who you might be able to turn to for support.

Finally, should you win, you may be subject to reprisals. If you become the target of these reprisals it might make it a hollow victory so consider what you might lose simply by winning.

Simply put, meticulous preparation, careful planning and a sense of what is at stake for both parties are all essential facets of a strategy to challenge a stronger, more senior colleague especially if that colleague is known to bully their arguments through.

Do you know people like this? How do you cope with them?

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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