It’s been such a delight these last four years since I focused on blogging and escaped from most of the business meetings. I openly confess. I don’t like meetings. Sure, there’s the rare exception, when a group of like-minded people discuss interesting ideas. I’ve been in meetings where people are excited, ideas bouncing about, lively discussions, brainstorming, and that’s great.
But it’s so damn rare.
One of my dear mother’s favorite expressions was “if the shoe fits, put it on.” Just writing that makes me miss her. See if you fit either of these descriptions.
The runaway train
You don’t see it as easily when it’s you, but if you watch for it, you’ll see it all the time. One person is introducing a thought, gets a few words or a sentence into it, and pauses. Then another person — the runaway train person — seizes the pause and starts talking.
Lots of people pause when they talk. There are good reasons to pause. But when the runaway train comes roaring in and takes the conversation over, the group never gets the wisdom of the person who talks slowly.
It’s worse when you’re the boss. People don’t complain about the boss interrupting. Right. And, gulp, I was the boss for a lot of years. Oh-oh.
Then there is the person who goes on and on and on and on and on and … you get the idea. Interrupting is rude, so you sit there, and when at last, after what seems like forever, the whole monologue seems to be winding down, then you hear, to your horror and the horror of everyone else in the meeting:
In other words…
Which means the whole thing is going to start up again.
It’s worse when you’re the boss. People don’t complain about the boss going on and on, right? And, gulp, I was the boss for a lot of years. Oh-oh.
Conclusion: pots and kettles
I know, it’s pots and kettles. I’ve done both of them, and I hate both of them. Don’t think for a minute, because I’m writing about this, that I think I don’t. At best, I try not to. When I think about it.
But I do hope this reminder will help you do better at your meetings. Do you have some suggestions? The talking stick, something like that? Something you’ve done to make meetings better, to avoid these two problems? I’d love some suggestions. And, if it helps, print this out and post it on a bulletin board, or in the conference room. Make it a gentle reminder to all.