Over half (51%) of business people have experienced personal insults, walk-outs, shouting, silent stand-offs and even physical violence during a company meeting or other corporate event, according to a new survey by Lumi.
The survey reveals how, even among outwardly civilised business people, meetings can get out of hand when not handled with care. The most common incident, according to those polled, is someone walking out of the meeting presumably in disagreement or anger – experienced by 26%. A similar number (24%) had been subjected to shouting when a discussion got out of hand. But alarmingly, 7% had also witnessed physical violence during a meeting.
Peter Eyre, UK managing director of Lumi says that in many cases, these dysfunctional meetings are down to lack of engagement and attendees either feeling their voice is not being heard, or conversely, not wanting to listen to anyone else’s opinion. “There’s always group pressure to conform to the accepted line, but if a business needs real insights and drive innovation, they need to consider every perspective and listen to every viewpoint, not just the ideas of whoever shouts the loudest. It’s not always easy to do this, but technology can make it easier.”
The Lumi survey also showed that 70% of those polled had been in a meeting where something embarrassing had happened, such as one of the team falling asleep or a personal message or picture projected during a presentation. Inevitably, the most common awkward moment is a phone ringing (17%) during a crucial discussion, but almost equally cringe-worthy is failing to mute a conference call, before talking privately (16%).
“These are all things that happen relatively easily – it doesn’t take much to forget to turn off a phone. However, if other attendees are thoroughly engaged in achieving the aims of the meeting, they hopefully will be too engrossed to notice. Unless, of course, someone starts snoring,” says Eyre.