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Tips on How to Reverse Rude Behavior in Meetings

As a leader having efficient and effective meetings is crucial to running a successful business. Meetings that aren’t productive are a waste of valuable time and cost the company money.

Have you ever been in a meeting and there is at least one person or all attendees that have nothing positive to say about anything?

I remember one day I finally snapped in a meeting. My leader wasn’t listening and talked over me while trying to explain why my team needed some technical help. So I started raising my voice over my leader. I was so upset with myself. That day, I realized this isn’t for me, and I didn’t particularly appreciate pushed to respond that way. I knew that this was the norm for the group, always trying to one-up, and I didn’t want to play anymore. I started putting my exit plan into action; it was time to remove myself from working there.

What are rude behaviors in meetings?

  • Interrupting the person speaking
  • Not listening, acting bored or lack of engagement
  • Being disrespectful to the speaker
  • Two people talking privately among themselves while someone else is speaking
  • People are just plain hostile to each other
  • Arguing over whose point is right
  • Over talking each other
  • Sarcastic mean comments to the speaker or each other
  • Being very judgmental to each other
  • One-upping each other
  • Participants taking everything that is said very personally due to the hostile interaction
  • Embarrassing the host or leader with malicious remarks

I have been in group meetings where all of these actions have happened, been the target, and been a participant of some of these disrespectful behaviors.  I am not proud about the way I acted, discourteous and unprofessional at times, but that was acceptable to be heard.  Was this behavior a way to conquer and get what was needed?  Not really.  Did anything get resolved?  Most of the time nothing was accomplished.

What lesson did I learn?  I wanted things to be different and I probably cared too much.  I was tired, beaten down, disrespected, and unhappy with the results.  I knew that nothing was going to change in these meetings and I had to either accept it, change my thinking or leave.

On the bright side my team at the time had a code of conduct for our meetings.  People were respectful to each other and follow them.  If someone didn’t follow the code of conduct including me, the team would call you out on it.  Things got resolved and people felt heard.

What happened to common courtesy, collaboration and respectfulness towards each other?

How can we change the behavior?  I believe it takes one person at a time, and the leader to lead by example and reverse this unprofessional behavior.

Here are some tips:

  • Set up rules of conduct for meeting(s).  Go over them at the beginning of each meeting as a reminder.  Have the code of conduct on the agenda template.  As time goes on with the same group of attendees, the code of conduct will not have to be quoted every time, because it is on the agenda.  I would recommend that if you have a new person attending the meeting to read the code of conduct at the beginning of the meeting.
  • When someone says something negative, turn to them and say something positive about the topic or person.
  • When someone intentionally breaks meeting etiquette, politely remind them or refer to the code of conduct.
  • As the leader focus on following the code of conduct, leading by example, and positive meeting etiquette will become achievable by all participants.
  • Redirect the “off topic” discussions to be addressed later.


Having a set code of conduct and behavior etiquette is so important to running successful meetings.  Being courteous and respectful allows everyone to speak, to be heard, participate, engage and this is when great results will happen. Be organized and prepared.  As a leader, we lead by example and if we are not focused and engaged; our employees will not be either.  ~ Patti

Comments are always welcome.  You can always use your initials or anonymous for your name, if this makes you feel more comfortable to respond.  🙂   Did you find this helpful?  If so, please share this blog post with your colleagues, friends, and family on all your social networks!  Thank you. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Tips on How to Reverse Rude Behavior in Meetings

  1. Awesome. Wow, this brings back memories. You could not have outlines this any better than what you did. I love how you shared your experiences – took accountability – created a plan of action. – etc..

    I will definitely share!

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