It is inevitable for some employees to fight over ideas during a brainstorming session for the next marketing campaign. It is a healthy exercise of democracy in the workplace. As a leader, you need to give everyone a voice instead of always telling people what to do. The problem is that these differences in ideas could quickly escalate into personal battles. Before you know it, the people in the room might be hurling insults at each other. You need to prevent this from happening without stopping everyone from speaking out.
Let people calm down first
When everyone in the room starts screaming at each other, you need them to calm down first. Do not join in the fight by yelling at them too. You are aggravating the situation when you enter the picture. After hearing everyone talk, you can ask all employees to relax before you proceed. If they cannot control their emotions, you might have to suspend the meeting. Moving forward as if nothing happened will only make things worse. The rest of the conference will not be fruitful anyway.
Give people time to think
At some point during the day, the ones involved in the fight will realise their mistake. They will make moves to reconcile. Allow it to happen since you are dealing with adults. However, if it has been over a day since the fight and there has still been no reconciliation, you need to talk to the people involved. Speak to them individually to discuss the problem. Do not force them to make peace with each other, but at least get a guarantee from them that they will remain civil and professional as you move ahead.
Before you even begin the meeting, you need to set standards on how you will move forward. For instance, you can tell people when they can speak and when they need to stop. You also need to tell everyone that the discussion needs to stay at a professional level and personal insults are unnecessary. Better yet, allow the employees to help set the rules for them to take ownership. It is embarrassing for them to violate the rules when they helped craft them.
Take the lead
As the leader of the team, you need to do your part. Make sure that you do not help escalate the tension. Be the mediator when you sense that things are getting out of hand. You can ask for a break if you feel like the room is getting tense. You also need to learn how to avoid saying no. Some employees are willing to share their ideas. The problem is when they often hear rejection, it sparks anger and it reaches a point when they cannot control what they say.
Your disposition during the meeting matters. For instance, when you are discussing how to design the pop up banner stand that you are using for your next campaign, you need to feel excited about it. If you are the first person in the room to become frustrated, you cannot expect the rest to feel otherwise.
It is not easy preventing people from fighting, but excellent leadership can make it happen.
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