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Christian Men at Work Podcast

May 1, 2023

Want to be distressed, look within myself, at my own power.
Want to be defeated, look behind me, at my past. The enemy is happy to remind me of all my sin and mistakes.
Want to be dismayed, look ahead, to the future. No one but God knows what will be.
Want to be distracted, look around. There are plenty of things to keep our focus.
Want to be delivered, sanctified, and transformed, then look up. Keep my eyes on Jesus.
Article on better meetings called "Don’t let the ‘Dominator,’ ‘Downer,’ ‘Derailer’ or other derailing behaviors hijack your meeting!"
Every train needs an engineer to keep it on track, and you can apply that principle to meetings, too. When you hold a meeting, consider yourself the engineer — the person who keeps the meeting moving forward and the purpose from being derailed. You may even have to deal with the “Dominator,” “Downer” or “Derailer,” but not to worry. We address that and more later in this story.


Almost everyone has organized or attended a meeting that was derailed, and those off-track meetings can quickly become a costly time suck. Preparing for various scenarios and knowing the tools you can use will keep things on track.


Manage for impact


You don’t want everyone pitching in at once, but it’s valuable to encourage full participation from those attending so you can get to the outcomes of the meeting, and everyone feels fully engaged and their ideas heard. Use polls, hand-raising and breakout groups to ensure everyone is heard. If a group is particularly large, establish some rules to promote interaction. Call out quiet attendees so their perspectives are heard and seek out new perspectives that people may hesitate to share. Plainly tell people you want more guidance or feedback on certain subjects.


Don’t be afraid of quiet — meeting silence can be your friend! It may feel awkward, especially for virtual participants, but pause for eight or more seconds after certain questions. That will tend to prompt people to speak, even if only to fill the void. It can also break the tendency for one person to do all the talking.

Managing derailing behaviors in your meetings


You want everyone in the discussion but watch out for attendees who can reduce meeting effectiveness. Use these tactics to keep things moving in the right direction.


The Derailer goes off on tangents and introduces new ideas without making a connection to the purpose.

Tactics: Offer separate times to talk about issues that aren’t the point of the meeting. Interrupt if you have to. Offer to set up a post-meeting talk.


The Dominator interrupts, dominates the conversation and never asks anyone else questions.

Tactics: Politely remind interrupters that everyone has to be heard for a broad discussion. Don’t be afraid to jump in and tell Dominator that you want to hear the rest of what an interrupted person has to say.


The Downer shuts down new ideas and exclusively points out what can go wrong.

Tactics: Ask downer to suggest improvements rather than just saying something won’t work.


If you recognize any of these meeting derailing behaviors, you may also be familiar with the Distractor (Arrives late, has side conversations, multitasks), the Disappearing Act (Did they accept or decline the invite? Who knows?) and the Determined (Fixed on their view and is sure everyone should hear it).


Wrapping it all up


​​​​​​​All good things must end and so must your meeting. If you’ve kept it on track, you should be able to wrap it up while offering some buffer time (close at 11:20, for example, rather than the stated 11:30). For any actions that need to take place afterward, clarity will go a long way.


Don’t say, “Someone should look into this.” Do say, “Richard, make sure this is done by 10 a.m. tomorrow.”


Don’t say, “We will keep this in mind.” Do say, “I will email everyone and give a decision on this within 24 hours.”


If time has run out, still end the meeting. You can send a wrap-up afterward but say before shutting down the meeting – in-person, Teams or hybrid – that you expect everyone to acknowledge they got the message and understand what’s next.