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 Root Cause Analysis  Root Cause Analysis   Iterative Modelling   Iterative Modelling

You will get problem people in your workshops. You need to know how to stand up for yourself assertively so that you can control the situation and control the remainder of the workshop.

In the workplace, we are faced with many people issues. The Toolkit is not the resource to try and deal with these subjects off antisocial behaviour, workplace assault or bullying, group or individual harassment or just plain annoying co-workers. The latter, by the way, have a tendency to solve by the side of your desk jangling their change in their pocket and moaning about the weather or the boss or the government or whatever todays topic is. We are going to look at the personality traits of people who attend workshops, what their characteristics are and how you can overcome the negative ones.

  1. The Aggressor

  2. AKA: the Attacker, Invader, Provoker, Antagonist
    Characteristics: the aggressor launches into verbal or personal attacks on other group members or the workshop facilitator. They constantly ridicule a specific person or group or they may ridicule a particular viewpoint.
    Resolution: the facilitator needs to stand between the two or more antagonists. This physical separation allows you to stop the attack. Try to depersonalise the issue and not use titles or names. Ask the antagonists to make sure they do the same. Maybe now, you need to introduce some new additional workshop ground rules to stop a repeat of this.

  3. The Dominator

  4. AKA: the Controller, Ruler, Governor, Dictator
    Characteristics: the dominator talks too often and talks too loudly. They attempt to govern a whole discussion and it seems impossible to shut them up. Often, a dominator is a more senior person or was a more senior person, sometime ago.
    Resolution: the facilitator needs to direct the conversation away from the dominator. Stand directly in front of them for a while until they quieten down. Catch them personally, in a one to one, during the coffee break and explain to them that you want to listen more and speak less.

  5. The Gossip

  6. AKA: the Gossip, Tell Tale, Rumour Monger, Trumpeter
    Characteristics: the gossiper will tend to bring hearsay, anecdotes and rumour into the workshop discussion. You will notice that they attempt to shift power by being an authority on a specific subject and that this so-called authority is based on the rumour and hearsay. You will also notice that they attempt to move the group to debate the truth of the information they have just presented, seeking to support the idea they have introduced.
    Resolution: make sure that the group leave out personalities from the issue and get them to confirm or deny the statements that have been made. Now, if the statements made are causing concern, consider taking a break to cover the real truth that elsewhere in the organisation and communicate it to the workshop.

  7. The Informer

  8. AKA: the Whisperer, Scandalizer, Windbag, Fifth Columnist.
    Characteristics: You will notice these straightaway as they hold alternative, private conversations with other team members. They will seek, by their secretive exchanges, to undermine or upstage the facilitator or other workshop members.
    Resolution: stand close to them, especially as they begin to hold their private conversations. Remind the whisperer that we have a ground rule demanding one conversation at a time. If this does not work, you will single them out and invite them to share their conversations with the rest of the group.

  9. The Drop Out

  10. AKA: the Shunner, the Avoider, the Dodger.
    Characteristics: The dropout always sits away from the table or hides near to the back of the room. They may choose to ignore your proceedings, doodle and draw, read on related material or perform on related work to avoid getting involved in the workshop.
    Resolution: this is one mindset that you need to be careful and cautious with. do not single this one out for public attention by asking for their participation. Try to get them involved in group activities where they are not single about and, if this does not work, chat to them about the problem in the coffee break.

  11. The Late Arriver

  12. AKA: the Dawdler, the Straggler, the Laggard
    Characteristics: latecomers persistently arrive late and make a show of it. They choose to arrive late at the start, after coffee breaks, after lunch breaks and after they return from the restroom. They are serial late arrivers. Furthermore, they insist on stopping the group mainstream when they choose to arrive to ensure that all session is halted while they are allowed to catch up with the rest of the team.
    Resolution: respectful punctuality is a ground rule of your workshop, you will enforce it. do not allow or commit any summarising or updating of a specific benefit of the late comer. Again, if this does not work, you will remind them of the ground rule.

  13. The Early Leaver

  14. AKA: the Slacker, the Waster, the Idler
    Characteristics: we discussed this a little, elsewhere in the Toolkit. So you know that the early leaver drains the groups energy and morale by leaving your workshop before its official end.
    Resolution: handle this the same way as the Late-comers and do not stop the workshop from one person.

  15. The Stuck Record

  16. AKA: the Repeater, the Echo
    Characteristics: brings up and labours the same point over and over again. They try to focus and direct discussion onto this one topic or issue. This seeks to prevent progress even when the group is ready to move on with different debate.
    Resolution: unfortunately, we have to listen as the stuck record needs to be heard. Take notes on the topic and some details surrounding it, lodge this as an open issue and move on. If this does not work, go around the workshop members, one after one and asks them if this particular issue is vital to achieving the workshops objective and kill the issue.

  17. The Hyper-Sceptic

  18. AKA: the Cynic, the Doubter
    Characteristics: this type of individual is unconvinced about many of the issues. They are critical and negative, verging on the aggressive when they do not succeed. The phrase to listen out for is that will never here.
    Resolution: you do not need to defend yourself. Try to turn the negative attitude into a more productive idea by using a workshop ground rule there are no criticisms without a possible alternative.

  19. The Disparager

  20. AKA: the Belittler, the Mocker, the Sneerer
    Characteristics: this is one you do not listen for, you look out for. This individual seeks to communicate their active disapproval through their body language and non-verbal clues. They head-shake and raise open hands in their astonishment while they seek to covertly influence other participants to reject a specific idea, by their hidden clandestine agenda.
    Resolution: confront the cues when you see them. Turn the non-verbal, into verbal. Get an opinion from them by actively seeking the verbal agreement or disagreement.

  21. The Translater

  22. AKA: the Explainer, the Converter
    Characteristics: this individual always speaks for someone else without invitation for them to do so. They will re-state the ideas of other people, not necessarily inside the workshop, and frequently distort or change the emphasis of the message to suit.
    Resolution: get the original speaker (if they are present in the workshop) to confirm or deny the comments. Make sure you do not embarrass or put them on the spot.

  23. The Connoisseur

  24. AKA: the Executive, the Authority
    Characteristics: when they come to emphasise a point, they will use the credentials of their age or their seniority or perceived experience and do not always talk out of their mouth. Be aware that they will attempt to focus on the opinion and status of the group rather than the issues in hand.
    Resolution: enforce the workshop ground rule "all views have equal value". Keep the group adequately focused on the specific issues and deal with this person like the interpreter.

  25. The Gouda

  26. AKA: the Big Cheese, the Director
    Characteristics: they tried to give the impression of being a very important member (the big cheese) of the organisation who is always in demand. They seek to demonstrate this by ducking in and out of the workshop, repeatedly answering telephone calls, reacting first to interruptions from outsiders and doing anything to demonstrate they are much too busy to devote to their full attention to the workshop.
    Resolution: remember the ground rules, especially regarding telephone calls and deal in the same way as the late comer. Consider establishing additional rules to handle busy body repeat offenders.

  27. The Chauffeur

  28. AKA: the Back Seat Driver, the Mrs Bucket
    Characteristics: listen out for those back seat driver instructions like "you want to do this ..." or "you want to do that…" and other attempts to control the workshop by demeaning the efforts of the facilitator. They will keep telling the facilitator what to do or what not to do.
    Resolution: listen to suggestions and comments, they may be good ones, but never hand over control of the workshop. This person needs to be spoken to during the coffee break.

  29. The Antique

  30. AKA: the Historic, the Ancient
    Characteristics: this type of person will focus on the way things have always been done, in the past that they feel most comfortable with and they know (or believe they know) work. A dinosaur tends to be ongoing to consider change and prefers stasis, caution and inertia.
    Resolution: try, as best as you can, get them to move forward and join in with the new ideas of the group. Try to get them to hold the vision of a perfect future scenario and let them begin to think how to get from here to there.

  31. The Pedantic

  32. AKA: the Doctrinaire, the Hair Splitter
    Characteristics: focuses on the accuracy of the minute detail. This dedication to minutiae and often trivia will slow down debates and prevent the free flow of ideas.
    Resolution: try to get idea generation out first of all. Allow the details, and anticipated input from the pedant, to be explored and examined later on.

  33. The Wit

  34. AKA: the Joker, the Village Idiot
    It: you will not be surprised to learn that you can expect the wit to make jokes throughout your workshop. They attract attention to themselves and do not feel obligated to consider the workshop & debate seriously and poke fun at everything they can, including achievements and problems.
    Resolution: try to let the moment of fun fizzle out. Others will soon get bored too. However if it carries on and is affecting progress you will speak with them offline and bring up the fact you feel they are belittling everything. Speak with the workshop owner too.


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