What happens at work when meetings get tense?
Does the team leader call for a break? Is there simply a deafening silence for a few minutes and then you just keep plodding on, ignoring the elephant in the room? Or does someone jump in with a joke, hoping to warm the frigid emotions?
Let me share a story that happened a few weeks ago at a meeting that perfectly illustrates the clown pattern at play.
After you read about how the tension was relieved, think about how you would have handled being in charge.
Here’s the scene: Dan, a jovial marketing expert, was known for his wit. He often jumped in when two or three individuals were throwing verbal darts at each other. This particular day, one of the strong and very opinionated women was under attack.
Dan waited till there was a short silence and said “Hey, you guys, this tension reminds me of a story I heard about a woman who killed her husband. Not just killed, she chopped him into pieces. The note in the house entry was that she had had enough. He never listened and for the umptenth time she told him NOT to walk on the newly washed hallway and kitchen floors and, well, he ignored her once too often.
The police arrived at the house and called into headquarters. We’re ready to look for the culprit. Response from headquarters, “What are you waiting for?” Response from police on site “We’re waiting for the floors to dry.”
What do you think was the reaction from the team of ten?
Meet Dan, a perfect example of the clown pattern.
Sometimes humor is the best way to drive a point home. It can communicate ideas that are serious in a lighthearted way. My question to you is, “How was Dan’s timing?”
The answer. The guys on the team laughed. The gals were furious. Instead of moving forward this team had to take a break and meet several days later when tempers cooled. Dan was asked by the VP to please, please not make any more jokes like the one from the other day.
The major work for those who have the clown pattern is to become a humorist.
Watch the video below and find out the best way to give effective feedback to those “Clowns” when they show up
In my book “Don’t Bring It To Work” on pages 141-142 you can learn about how Mark Twain became a great model of how to use humor in difficult situations.
Let me know if you have any great jokes that can help lower the tension in meetings.