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Meetings Assertiveness Conflict Insults Power Plays and Players Who's In Charge?

At a meeting to address improving one department within the company, attended by three of our managers, another staff member and I, the staff member right from the beginning of the meeting launched a personal verbal attack upon me. One manager tried to stop it saying this was a personal matter that should be addressed by just the two of us outside of work hours. Yet the meeting continued with her slandering me and making damaging comments concerning my character and work ethics. One manager said it sounded like she was jealous of my special treatment and he went on to say special treatment occurs everywhere and with anyone and coworkers should not compare. What this staff member was jealous of concerning me is out of my control--it is mandated by my immediate manager due to the circumstances of my duty hours being different each day to accommodate our clients. Many of her insults directed at me were defended by two of my managers. Twice the third manager seems to endorse the other staff member's complaints so I professional gave my reasoning for my actions. For example, the staff member said I take to much time with clients and the third manager agreed, so I explained I felt I was providing thorough and needed information and letting them ask all their questions. Was this okay to explain/defend myself? This coworker was speaking with venom and even throw out mean things (like pointing out a medical condition I have). Should the managers have let this meeting continue when they could never keep her on the focus of the meeting because she kept attacking me?

When you’re in a meeting and trying to discuss department improvements, this is not the time or place for anyone to launch a personal attack on you. The fact that you were supported by one of the other managers is a nice gesture, but you were simultaneously attacked by two others. If any insults should be hurled in this meeting, they should be directed toward whoever is running the meeting, as this individual is totally clueless in such a role.

It is normal for people to respond to a personal verbal assault, and it sounds like you were rather remarkable in the way you handled it. When faced with these types of comments in a situation such as this, many people respond emotionally, defensively, and without their usual controls. The fact that you were able to react professionally only strengthened the validity of your comments while undermining the credibility of theirs.

At this point, you should meet with whoever was running this meeting, express your concern over the way things went, indicate that you are more than willing to discuss such feedback privately, and then ask when the group is going to meet to actually discuss department improvements. Hopefully your comments to this individual will lead to improvements in the meetings as well.

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