How to Survive an Ambush After the Meeting

Your team just made an important decision. You think everyone left the meeting ready to go.

But Barney sticks his head in the door and asks, “Got a minute?”

Barney says, “I’m not sure we made the right decision.”

Establish purpose:

Take charge of the conversation.

Say, “Thanks for stopping in. So Barney, what would you like to get out of our conversation today?”

Establish purpose before engaging in conversation.

If Barney is coy, ask, “Would you like the decision to be changed?” Be direct!

At this point, the conversation goes one of three directions.

  1. I’m not sure.
  2. Yes.
  3. No.

Not sure:

If Barney isn’t sure that he wants the decision changed, postpone the conversation. “Let’s touch base tomorrow morning. Perhaps you’ll have greater clarity.”

He may be looking for an ally.

Don’t help people find arguments against the team’s decision after it’s been made. 


Barney may repeat, “I have some concerns.” This is a not-so-subtle attempt to change the decision. If Barney wants the decision changed, start taking notes.

  1. What concerns do you have?
  2. What reasons do you have for changing the decision?
  3. What alternatives do you suggest?

Barney is voicing his concerns outside the meeting because he wants you to take the heat. After listening for a bit – but not long – offer four options.

  1. “What would you like to do next?” (This may be enough.)
  2. “Would you like to email these concerns to the team?”
  3. “I’ll put you on the agenda of our next meeting so you can express your concerns.”
  4. “We’re aren’t changing the decision. Next time, will you please voice your concerns in the meeting?” Wait for an answer.


If he doesn’t want the decision changed, repeat the purpose-question, “What would you like to get out of our conversation?”

How might leaders navigate being ambushed after the meeting?