Have you ever been in a meeting for a specific topic when someone brings up a different -- or even a sensitive -- topic and tries to throw you "under the bus" in a public forum?
Handling a situation like this can separate the good managers from the great managers. What is the best way to react when you are blind-sided by a colleague you thought was your ally? And why would folks you trust ever feel the need to confront you publicly with a sensitive agenda item that had nothing to do with your reason for meeting in the first place?
What Are Your Options?
Do you address it on the spot? Do you ask that person to take their issue "off-line"? Or do you fight fire with fire and let them know that this is neither the place nor the time for such a conversation?
It would be very east to "blast" that person for making an inappropriate comment in a public meeting, but by doing so we bring ourselves down to their inappropriate level. What would that solve?
In order to be an effective manager and leader it is in not only what we say that matters, but also how and when we say it. And indeed, sometimes what you say and how you react to a situation defines you as a leader for a long time to come.
When someone, in a public forum, says something over the top, take a moment, catch your breath, and tell them that you are happy to discuss their issue or concern, but this is not the place or the time for such a discussion. Tell them that you are happy to meet with them individually after this meeting is over, or at another convenient place and time. Reaffirm that you understand their issue and that you are sure it is important, and that you are happy to talk about it, in the correct forum.
Then, when you are alone with them, fortify the importance of a "right place and time" for such a delicate conversation. Listen to their concerns, but reaffirm the importance of speaking about topics in the proper setting. Sometimes people act out in a public forum because they don't know how to approach a subject any other way. Teach them how to become a better communicator.
If the Issue Persists
On the other hand, if they insist and press the issue, sometimes you have to draw a hard line. Tell them that this topic -- in this setting -- is inappropriate, and walk away. Be careful that you do not lose control. Do not say something that you might regret and that will have you defending yourself with human resources down the line.
The high road is always the best road to take in a professional setting, even when your gut is telling you to blast that person out of the water. Embarrassing them will accomplish nothing. You want to defuse the situation, allow that person to save some face, and address their issue of concern, all at the appropriate time and place.
In business, your adversary today may be your ally tomorrow, so take the high road even if a colleague went down and dirty to throw you under the bus.
Don Newton is a clinical healthcare consultant and speaker specializing in project management, laboratory, meaningful use and LOINC-related opportunities. Contact: email@example.com
HEALTHCARE JOB BOARD
Apply to Any Healthcare Job in Seconds
No other resource can speed up your job search like the ADVANCE job board. On our site, you can save openings and submit applications in just a few quick clicks. You can even track your status up to the minute with your own personalized dashboard. Energize your job search >>