In my college days, I was involved in a panel of fellow students where we discussed, once a week, things that were going in the country and sometimes the world. Our moderator was a stand-up guy who allowed all viewpoints to be expressed and so a lot of interesting discussion came from our talks. Everyone was very respectful and we had no conflict whatsoever, though we were all diverse in some of our viewpoints.
One day, we had a new guy who very excited to be joining us and we were always welcoming to new faces and ideas.
The discussion began about the chosen topic, which happened to be about messaging, and we were going back and forth. When it was my turn to speak, I relayed what I believed to be the correct perspective. Most of the people in the room nodded with respect though a few disagreed with me.
When the new guy’s turn came around, he gave his perspective and it was totally opposite of what I had said, and likewise, everyone gave their polite nod, but then he turned to me and looked me right in the eye. “So, in other words, you’re wrong!” He declared it openly in front of everyone, attempting to embarrass me. What he did not count on was that we had been coming to these panels for a year and a half and we were all mostly friends. The only thing he succeeded in doing was suddenly making the conversation very personal.
Though our moderator handled it well, this immediately put everyone on edge around him as every felt they had to be defensive with what they had to say. He found himself marginalized and forced to defend his position even more so than before because of the outburst he had made.
The new guy, attempting to show his superiority, ending up looking embarrassed. Needless to say, the next time he came, he was more respectful when he disagreed with someone and did not challenge them personally.
In any kind of meeting, no one wants to be that guy who makes it personal every time he disagrees. It is very unprofessional and it makes your co-workers feel like they are walking on eggshells to express their opinion.
When an employer calls a meeting to ask employees about a particular subject, he or she needs to be sure that each employee has time to voice their ideas without having to feel embarrassed by someone who might have an opposite opinion or just a louder voice. A louder voice does not always necessarily mean better ideas. It sometimes just, well, loud.
Giving everyone the ability to feel safe enough to express their opinion is the way to hear of the best solutions and ideas.