Who decides when enough is enough?

African male employee speaking sharing ideas at diverse team meeting

How many of you have said, “enough is enough?” And how many of you find that while you demand that the upset stop, it just keeps going on and on.  

QUESTION: Who decides when enough is enough? 

ANSWER: It depends on the circumstances. 

What an annoying, non-answer. 

Well, it does depend on the circumstances.  

EXAMPLE: Your direct report is behaving badly in a meeting. He is slyly looking at his phone which is strategically positioning under the table. While his voice is silent, his eyes are going from squinting to total OMG rolling around to let you know he thinks your idea sucks. (Or so you think he thinks this). 

You say to yourself “enough is enough.”  

And you call for a short break. You call the rolling eyes guy into a corner and ask him what his problem is (all the while thinking you should fire the jerk).  

He apologizes. 

Says he has too many things on his mind, especially a sick child who is waiting for him to get to the elementary school to take her home. His wife, he explains, is out of town at a leadership meeting from her company and he is the designated parent for the rest of the week. 

He looks sullen as he utters your phrase “Hell, this week is hell. When is enough enough?” 

Okay. How do you respond to him? 

That was the context of my coaching session with a senior VP from a company that had to furlough everyone except for the few senior leaders at the above meeting. 

Here was my suggestion: 

At the next meeting, you really need some time to take the “emotional temperature” in the room.  

“How do I do that?” I was asked. 

By a process, we call “Getting Current.” 

It’s especially important during times of group stress.  

Although it works for all companies at all meetings all year long. 

Here’s how it works. Best for smaller groups (up to about 20). 

You start the meeting with a minute of silence. Yes, a minute. You know, 60 seconds. Every meeting can give that much time for a little bit of quiet. 

No rules about eyes open or closed.  

Just mouths shut and phones off. 

Then each person has a few minutes to say how they are feeling (the good “F” word).  

No pressure. No deep explanations. Just a short bit about what is going on personally as well as professionally. 

Here is a short excerpt from my book,  Don’t Bring It To Work 

Meetings are often called the ‘black hole” in the business day. Most meetings are agenda-driven and stay with the linear left side of the brain, often excluding the intuitive right side. Yet, it  is the combination of the two that sets off creative sparks and bonds teams together. 

Start the meeting by letting each person room to say something about how they are doing. Monitor it. No long paragraphs, no cross-talk, no saving someone, or giving advice. Just listening. And then the next person talks.  

Also, important that it is not in a straight line or “straight circle” if at a conference table.  

Someone talks and then someone, maybe on the other side of the table picks up the thread and says whatever they want to say. 

Keep going till everyone has a chance to express themselves. 

It clears the air.  

I promise you; the meeting will move faster with more positive results. 

In a group of 20, this would take maybe 15 minutes. 

Example from the “designated parent” above. 

If he had the chance simply to say he was worried about his ill daughter and would have to leave after the meeting to pick her up and was feeling the pressure of being the solo parent.  

Just that would be enough. 

How long did that take? Maybe 30 seconds if he spoke slowly. A minute if he needed to say he was frustrated and wished his wife could get back sooner. 

He would be more present in the meeting and the “enough is enough” mentality would have been put to rest. 

Give it a shot.  

We have taught this process to large organizations, family firms, and startups.  

It works. 

There is a great deal about team collaboration in my book Don’t Bring It To Work. Get a copy  HERE and contact me for more information. 

 To your success,


Sylvia Lafair