Imagine that you open a meeting by saying, "We need to talk about budget."
And someone responds with, "I named my dog Budget because everyone tells me he's too big."
After laughter subsides, you wonder why anyone would make such a silly remark in your meeting.
And this leads to a larger question: Why would anyone misbehave in a meeting? Taken to extreme, misbehavior can ruin a meeting. That wastes everyone's time and squanders opportunity to produce useful results.
Here are some possibilities.
1) They're uninformed
Many people do not know how to plan, conduct, or participate in a meeting. They think that gathering people in a conference room represents holding a meeting. They believe that planning is unnecessary because they expect everyone to arrive with a common agenda. They think that hosting a discussion actually leads to useful results. These well-meaning attempts at holding a meeting are so counterproductive that they can appear to be misbehavior. In addition, a bad meeting irritates others, causing them to retaliate with misbehavior.
Better: Show people how to plan and conduct meetings. Teach them how to use process tools that help people make methodical progress toward results. Schedule a workshop that shows people how to plan and lead meetings. (Call me to talk about my outstanding workshop.)
2) They're bored.
Many meetings occur with a few people talking while rest watch. When this happens, quiet participants entertain themselves by daydreaming, starting side conversations, or working on other tasks (such as preparing lists of things to do once meeting finally ends). People with extensive experience in bad meetings have learned how to feign credible interest while being mentally absent.
Better: Plan activities that involve everyone. Avoid relying on discussion for your meeting because it allows more vocal attendees to dominate.
3) They're mad.
People can be mad for many reasons, such as they feel trapped in an unplanned meeting or they disagree with results being obtained. They could also feel mad if others are preventing them from participating.
People know that a meeting without an agenda will waste their time, and they resent this. For example, a man once told me that he and his friends would "sandbag" any meeting that was called without an agenda. They made inappropriate comments, introduced distracting considerations, and asked pointless questions. Of course, they acted with such professional sincerity that it seemed that they were being productive instead of disruptive.