Never bring a bomb to a meeting

People with anxiety often describe socially embarrassing dreams, like realising they have no clothes on during a presentation, or having their pants pulled down in front of the classroom.

The sense is one of burning shame and embarrassment, followed by anger and resentment.

Normally they are relieved to wake to find it is a dream. However, metaphorically at least, there are regularly occasions when we can inadvertently place our colleagues in the same position.

I call these "bringing a bomb to a meeting".

The behaviour is as follows:
A piece of information is known to me, which compromises you, and I choose to raise this information for the first time in a group setting, like a meeting.

For example, one of your team might tell me that one of your deliverables for me is going to be delivered late. Rather than confront you there and then, I wait until our weekly status meeting, where our peers and superiors are in attendance, to inform you of my displeasure at the delay.

Why would I be surprised if you react with an extreme emotional response, as above?

How much less friction would be generated if I called you as soon as I heard the deliverable was going to run late, to allow you to respond, and to give you a chance to fix things before the meeting?

Or, if it cannot be fixed, to allow you and I to jointly form an update for the status meeting, detailing what has gone wrong and why, and most importantly, what we are doing about it?

Instead, I have created friction and resentment, and will now have to spend time repairing the relationship, or fending off your reactions to my words. Not to mention dealing with the reputational damage to both of us, as we squabble in front of our peers and superiors.

If you bring a bomb to a meeting, don't be surprised if it goes off in your face.