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How would you handle a difficult or disruptive person in a group requirements gathering session?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 3823 Views // 1 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Elicitation (BABOK KA)


There are many reasons why people may come off as disruptive in requirements gathering sessions. These might include being resistant to change, being worried you will automate them out of a job, or having been through sessions like this before with no result, which leaves them feeling that the meeting is a waste of time. 

Here are some tips to deal with disruptive team members:

  • Remember that it is your job to maintain order in the meeting. Do not be afraid to take control of the situation even though you may be the most junior or newest team member.

  • Make sure to have an agenda for the meeting. With a published agenda, you can get the meeting back on track by saying that you will stick to the agenda for the meeting and that additional items can be dealt with one-off or added to the agenda for the next meeting.

  • Offer to connect with the person one-on-one after the meeting to address their concerns. When anything else comes up that is pulling the meeting off course, add that to the list of items you can talk about one-on-one.

  • Set up time limits for speaking. Sometimes, going into a meeting, we know it will be a difficult meeting. Setting up time limits for speaking is an option.

  • Call on someone else. If the same person is always chiming in, thank them for their input, and say that you would like to also hear from someone else.

  • Call a break. If the person won't lighten up during the meeting, call a break and talk to the person one-on-one to see what can be done to address the issue and get the meeting back on track.

  • Ask the member to leave or reschedule the meeting. Asking the member to leave the meeting can be very touchy and is likely not the right choice. In some cases, it may be best to adjourn the meeting for the day and regroup after feelings have calmed down or when you can meet without the disruptive person.

You want to avoid burning bridges. Keep in mind that the disruptive member may still be a valuable resource. But, it is important to be fair to all by keeping the meeting on track while also making sure the disruptive member feels heard and hopefully gets on-board with the process.


Shawna Burkey
LinkedIn Profile



hauser posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 2:55 AM
Well said. Often very intelligent people are also VERY stubborn people who get worked up easily. It requires skill and high EQ to mitigate the disturbance they cause. What I have done in the past is take a day long break, and come back to this person on a normal tone like nothing happened, (and they will sometimes be caught by surprise), and then things are OK again.
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