What should I do when I am facilitating a discussion and someone is deliberately attempting to sabotage the discussion to promote an external agenda?
There are a few way I have considered dealing with this:
- Come down hard on the critic and possibly alienate him but convince the other people in the room
- Try and win the critic by being gentler and less forceful but risk losing/weakening the position of the others in the room
Is there a better way to handle these situations?
Thanks to everyone who has pitched in, just to bring a little more context in here I've outlined a few scenarios below which I've been involved with.
Solution socialisation meetings
In a meeting with a large enterprise customer and multiple other vendors at the table. Several high up Execs (CTO type people) are also at the meeting who are also in the meeting. The meeting is to discuss how the solution fits into the wider organisation.
Prior to this meeting extensive talks have been had around which vendor solutions are the best technical fit. A solution has been decided on and all of the vendors have had a chance to raise concerns ect.
During the socialisation meeting one of the vendors who's solution was discarded speaks up with a highly technical reason why the selected solution doesn't work (from where I'm sitting it looks like a direct play to undermine the selected solution in-front of Exec ect). I have a really good reason why the particular concern raised is completely invalid as we have discussed this in detail in earlier talks.
- Entertain the question, and talk through why it isn't an issue but risk looking like we haven't done due diligence in the solution selection phase.
- Should I step down hard on the person, raise the fact that we have already discussed this in earlier talks and that its already been 'proven wrong' essentially shaming the person involved.
You are on a product forum discussing new features for the product. You are quite a long way into socialising the idea and working through what it means and what could go wrong.
Someone posts with a post saying something along the lines of the following:
This idea could never work because of X Y Z. Its obvious the product shouldn't even be doing this particular function. By the way I'm writing an alternative to this product.
In this case X Y Z had already been discussed in detail earlier in the forum and some great solutions had been found to the issues raised.
- Come down hard on the question and cite the fact that it appears he hasn't actually read the discussion, and be dismissive about his arguments. This will alienate him and risk coming across as blunt and unwelcoming for other users. But will dismiss the problems and maintain confidence in the feature.
- Talk to his points and talk through the issues which have been raised (again). This may appear to other parties that the feature has less credence. It may also provide credibility for his competing product.