Overcoming Meeting Stalemates

Reaching a consensus during a meeting can sometimes be challenging, even though you’re all playing for the same team. Coworkers are going to have different ideas about what is best and aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye or come to an agreement. This can result in an impasse, with neither side willing to cede their ground. When mired in a stalemate during a business meeting, how do you more forward?

In any workplace, it’s important to assume positive intent. Assuming your coworkers mean well, have the best intentions, and are doing their best has a positive impact on communication, relationships, and trust. It’s also extremely productive when applied during a meeting impasse. Assuming positive intent during these stalemates will keep the conversation civil and courteous. Diplomatic discussion will eliminate defensive responses and provide participants an environment in which they feel safe to speak their mind. You’ll find it much easier to work through an impasse in this type of climate.

Another way to come out of a meeting stalemate in a good space is by avoiding a vote on the matter. When you put something to a vote, a majority will win and a minority will lose. While a decision may have been reached, you run the risk of disgruntled coworkers who aren’t on board with the results. Those discontent employees can hamper the progress going forward, because they aren’t satisfied with the direction the majority has set for them. Instead of voting, keep moving forward until a consensus can be reached in which everyone is aligned with the resolution.

Being mired in a stalemate can oftentimes be stressful and exhausting, conditions which inherently make people disagreeable. “No” is an extremely easy answer to give when you’re tired or frustrated. When you sense this during an impasse, call for a recess. Excuse everyone from the room for a break and resume the meeting later after the participants have had a chance to decompress. You’ll find refreshed and de-stressed coworkers much more agreeable and likely to reach common ground.

There are going to be difficult discussions in business where coworkers can’t reach an agreement and stalemates arise. Carefully working through these impasses in a manner that suits the best interests of the company while no feelings are hurt will ensure the best possible outcome for the long-term health of the organization.