How do you handle explosive situations in a workshop when emotional outbursts have derailed the conversation?
It can happen.
I try to avoid it as much as I can – by over-preparing.
Before kick-off with client, and before any workshops, we must do the sales-delivery handover, where I ask these questions:
– What’s the client like?
– How did you find the sales process?
– Who’s the driver of change?
– Who’s the real person in charge?
– Who might be resistant to change?
– Were there anything that happened that we need to know about?
– What’s the political landscape like?
– What’s their change management maturity level like?
Even so, sometimes things still go pear shaped.
There are a few reasons why workshops may not go as planned when participants get angry and defensive.
It may be that they worry about their job security, or that the organisation has not been transparent about the change that is coming in and how that might affect everyone.
My believe is that people get angry and upset when they feel out of control.
A group of business suited individuals asking them about how they do their job and what’s their biggest “pain points” could definitely be a trigger.
Being a consultant means that we should always be professional, and we don’t escalate these types of situation by being defensive.
Instead, be gentle, and listen to them in a non-judgemental way.
Active listening is the very first step in diffusing a rapidly escalating situation.
Sometimes, taking a break for tea and Donuts help too.