“Where there is personality, there is discord.” No wonder, meeting rooms are witnesses to ego clashes and conflicts. But, it doesn’t have to be so. Understanding different personality types and how they interact can have a significant impact on meeting productivity in both traditional meetings and remote team meetings.Personality traits also affect teamwork and team dynamics. Some maybe leaders, some may bring new ideas, or some may prefer to just take it all in. It is important to discover all the personality types in the meeting room, including your own and use it to run a productive meeting.
The Four Personality Types
In his book “Meetings Suck” Cameron Herold outlines the personality types that you will encounter in a meeting room. There are 4 broad categories, the Dominant, the Expressive, the Analytical and the Amiable.
On August 6th, 2017, Herold tweeted about his book “”This book is for ALL employees to read - it will save every company 100X the cost of the books - Meetings Suck:” @CameronHerold
The Dominant Personality Type
These individuals are extroverts. They do not hesitate to express their opinion, sometimes even forcefully pushing it. They are self-assured, confident and Type-A personalities. They may not have the best solutions, but they are willing to argue and prove that they are right.
Interacting with Dominant Individuals During Meetings
Dominant individuals do not need encouragement to participate.However, they may hijack the conversation and cause the meeting to go off-track. They may be so focused on getting their point across that they fail to hear what others have to say. It is important to let the dominant individuals know that their opinions and viewpoints have been heard. As a meeting facilitator, invite input from those who haven’t spoken to ensure that dominant individuals do not control the conversation.
The Expressive Personality Type
The Expressive personality type is characterized by enthusiasm, spontaneity & extroversion. They are emotional, excited and are eager to contribute to conversations. They love to be in the spotlight and thrive on popularity and recognition. They tend to think out loud and verbally express numerous answers before arriving at the final one.
Getting the Best Out of Expressive Individuals During Meetings
Expressive individuals are known for derailing meetings, just like the Dominant type. This leads to unproductive meetings where the agenda is not followed. Gently remind them to stay on track and allow others who have not spoken to participate. Encourage input from all attendees and ensure that everyone’s opinion is heard. Establish ground rules prior to the start of the meetings and create an environment where everyone is comfortable sharing their thoughts.
The Analytical Type
Analytical people use a very formal tone for all their communications. They use minimal eye contact and gestures while speaking. Analytical individuals are introverts. They think before they speak, because of this, others assume they are disinterested in the conversation. They often keep their opinions and ideas to themselves and do not speak out.
Getting Analytical Individuals to Participate in Meetings
Prepare the agenda in advance and share all relevant documents. This will help the analytical personality type to come prepared to the meeting with their point of view. It will give them time to think through the issue and come up with creative solutions. Be patient and give them time to speak. Assure them that they add value to the meeting and help them recognize their own worth.
The Amiable Personality Type
The Amiable individual will do anything to avoid rejection and conflict, they tend to go along with the general opinion. They often converse in a very relaxed manner. but become stubborn when forced to make a decision. They feel that no one listens to their opinion and that they don’t add value to meetings.They find it very difficult to express their ideas and be accepted.
Getting the Amiable Individual to Add Value to a Meeting
Call on Amiable individuals by name and ask for their opinion. When critical decisions are being made, specifically ask each attendee if they accept the decision of the group. Encourage all participants to be open to all viewpoints and consider them carefully before rejecting any of them. Encourage them to speak out and use the ideas they contribute, this will motivate them to contribute to future discussions. Before the meeting ends, ask attendees to rate the meeting and monitor the feedback. This will weed out discontent and resentment.
Other Personality Types that can Impact your Meetings:
In a survey conducted by Fuze, 92% of participants confessed to multitasking during meetings, whether it was checking emails or keeping tabs on personal social media.
The Precise Person
Precise people are accurate and perform their assignments with the greatest care. Give them a specific role during meetings, like recording meeting notes. You can also ask them to assign and delegate tasks once the meeting is over.
The Out-of-the-Box Thinker
This person has a creative bent of mind and is always bursting with fresh new ideas. They love challenges and work well in situations that encourage trial and error.
The Team Player
The team player is enthusiastic, resolves conflicts and is usually the first one to take on assignments. They help drive the meeting forward and make it productive.
Interrupters are responsible for derailing meetings. The negatively impact the meeting productivity and stop the other meeting participants form achieving the meeting’s objectives.
Also known as the Negative Nancy, this person usually disagrees with everyone and finds many reasons to show that “this will never work”. They are confrontational and challenging. The best countermeasure is to stick to facts and end the argument as quickly as possible.
The Unprepared One
The unprepared meeting attendee asks a lot of basic questions that reveal that he is unprepared. His usual statement is “I didn’t know we would be talking about that”. Precious time is wasted getting him up to speed.
Leveraging Meeting Personality Types
In order to leverage the different personality types, particularly the four outlined by Cameron Herold, here are a few tips that can work for all types of meetings.
1. Plan your meetings and structure them. Forbes suggests using a Statement of Achievement” Its a sentence that says “As a result of this meeting, we will have achieved ___.” Fill in the blank before the meeting and share it along with your agenda. You can also announce it before your meeting starts.
2. Create a compelling agenda. The meeting agenda should clearly indicate the meeting topic, why that topic is important and how meeting attendees can prepare.
3. Set rules for decision making. Establish how decisions will be made. It can be vote based, an expert will have the final say, it can also include consensus or bargaining.
4. Create a focal point. A discussion topic written a board can help in directing everyone’s attention to a single point. Get all attendees to write down their ideas. The meeting facilitator sorts through these ideas and shares them.
5. End the meeting with the right question. What will be your personal achievement and by when will you achieve it? This improves accountability and responsibility.
6. Reflect on how your meeting went: Use these assessment questions to gather input from your meeting attendees:
- Did we meet our Statement of Objective? If yes, to what extent?
- What would you like to do more of , during these meeting?
- What would you like to do less of, during these meetings?
If you consistently receive negative feedback, it’s time to rethink the reason for holding meetings. Analyze if your meeting is focussed on agreed upon objectives and take necessary corrective measures.
Identify Your Personality Type
Individuals often possess a primary and secondary type. Identify your primary and secondary type and also those of your team. Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each type. Develop ways to overcomes the negatives aspects of your personality, so that you can contribute effectively during meetings.
Dominants and Expressives should wait before jumping into conversations. Listen to what others in the meeting have to say. Try and understand their viewpoints by asking questions. Amiables and Analyticals must realize they have been invited to the meeting to add value. Don’t keep ideas and opinions to yourself, speak out. Start small, make an effort to speak at least once during the meeting.
Personality need not be a source of conflict. You can harness the creative force of diverse personalities and achieve meeting greatness.
Cameron Herold provides great insight on how to run successful meetings. Read his book and make your meetings better.