As a leader, who is often required to chair meetings, it is important for you to keep control of a meeting. One simple indication of control is your intervention when one of the meeting members makes an inappropriate comment. A strong leader doesn’t wait for others to shake their heads in silent disdain for the inappropriate outburst – or worse, nod in agreement, says Florence M. Stone in ‘The Manager’s Question & Answer Book: 190 important questions – with practical answers to make you a better manager’ (

Body language can also be effective in controlling meeting behaviour, she counsels. “If someone makes a scathing remark that is unjust or inaccurate in response to a remark from one of the participants, a strong, disapproving look back to the member may be effective.”

On the converse, when participants at a meeting respond nonverbally to another member’s comment – say, scoffing or rolling their eyes when a junior member makes a remark – a strong leader can address the behaviour verbally or nonverbally. “He or she might say, ‘Is there a problem, Peter, with John’s remark?’ The leader – and team members, too – can show with questioning looks that belittling attitudes just aren’t appreciated and that they don’t share that same, unjust opinion.”

The leader’s role, says Stone, is to create an environment where ideas are viewed fairly, no matter who contributes them, and where the group’s energies are positively and productively focused.

The book wraps with a romantic question: ‘Would dating a colleague have a negative impact on my career?’ Generally, in smaller firms, office romances are tolerated, the author opines. “But larger companies covertly (or very overtly) discourage romance between employees – in particular, those between managers and their staff. If your company has a clear ‘no fraternising’ policy, then you and the other employee risk immediate dismissal if the company finds out.”

If the romance involves two single people, and they behave professionally throughout, and also part in a civilised manner when the relationship gets sour, what can be the worst consequence of the affair? ‘Being the butt of office gossip,’ observes Stone.

In cases of indiscretion which become public, reputations are tarnished and the professional stature of the individuals is permanently damaged, she notes. “Rumour mongering will cut into office performance. There is also the danger of domestic violence – a wronged spouse angrily entering an office making accusations and threatening harm.”

Recommended addition to the manager’s shelf.


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