Why Is That Person So Frustrating At Meetings?

by: Stratford Managers

Recently I was helping one of my clients fill a new marketing position. Along with selecting someone with the right skills, identifying the right cultural fit was also important, especially for this smaller company.

During the interview process, a group of software developers was hauled into an impromptu meeting with one of the candidates. The interviewing manager asked if they had anything they wanted to discuss with the candidate. After a few minutes of awkward silence, someone muttered some general comments before they gratefully escaped back to their cubicles. It was not the kind of interaction that the interviewing manager had hoped for.

A group of marketers would probably have been tripping over each other to share their opinions and quiz the candidate on her background! It’s a fact that certain personalities are drawn to certain careers, something we should keep in mind when we interact and communicate with others. Marketing and Sales types are more likely to shoot from the hip, loudly debating an issue out in the open (usually all at the same time!) before their thinking begins to crystallize. Engineers and software developers on the other hand, tend to look at a problem introspectively, forming solutions before sharing their thoughts.

As a manager, when you gather together people from different functions it is important to take notice of who is actively participating and who is fairly quiet. The quieter ones often have lots to contribute but while they’re “processing” aren’t comfortable jumping into the debate. They may even appear uninterested or unengaged in the topic. To get the most from your meetings, it’s worth the effort to periodically perform a roundtable check-in to make sure you’re not missing someone’s valuable input.

The interviewing manager at my client regrouped by giving the software developers advanced notice of individual meetings with the candidate at their workstations. Success! The debriefings after these interviews provided excellent insight into how well the candidate would fit with the team.

Understanding the human dynamics of communications preferences can make a big difference in your interviewing practices, your management effectiveness and your personal relationships. So, the next time you’re in a meeting, carefully observe the different dynamics at play. Who knows, you may just discover that the person you always found so frustrating (whether the loud mouth or the dormouse) may simply process information differently.

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