Anyone working in the professional world, past or present, knows that no one has enough time. Especially for bullshit meetings. What is a bullshit meeting? A meeting you really didn’t need to attend, nothing and no one is prepared, the purpose is unknown, time is wasted, everyone’s aggravated. etc.
At two of the last three companies I worked we had consultants come in and help us incorporate better meeting practices. Basically, we were instructed to do the opposite of what I listed above. Por ejemplo …
- Send out a meeting invite. Book a room. Invite those who need to come as mandatory. Those who don’t really matter or who are probably too busy to attend should be “optional.”
- In the subject line give a good description of the meeting. In the body of the invite include more relevant info, if possible, including any pre-work, presentations, warnings, etc.
- The meeting creator should assign certain tasks to people. For example: “9:00-9:15: Coffee and Intros. Team” “9:15-9:30: Skewering of the interns. Kelly, Brittany, and Kristina.” “Note-taker: Rudolf.”
- Respect everyone’s time and needs. Be flexible. Certain things might take more time than needed, though try not to get too derailed.
By no means exhaustive, I use this list to get to an important point. We need to apply good meeting practices to our friendships. Here’s an example of what I mean.
Say your friend, or sister or whomever calls you to vent. She calls you up and is all casual and you’re just chatting and whatnot. Then she starts to vent. Things are not so casual. This will not be a light chat. Nope. You had NO time to buckle your seat belt and prepare. You are caught with your pants off (so to speak) and you freak out. “Dude, I gotta go.” (Whoa. I wasn’t ready for that.) Here’s how a couple of good meeting management tactics could have helped. Instead, friend/sister/person emails or texts “Dude, on the brink of a major SOS. Really need you to listen. Do you have some time? If not now, please let me know when. Phone or Skype would rock.” Alternatively, a phone call. “Hey, how are you? Good. Good. Whatever. Hey – listen, I have an SOS situation on my hands. I need you to listen. Do you have some time and mental capacity? Awesome.”
Had those practices been applied I would have been prepared for the “meeting.” (Calm, understanding voice. Coffee or wine in hand. 30-60 minutes set aside. Suggestions to combat SOS situation. No expectations that any of my gripes would be heard. Management of expectations. Important stuff.
We all have needs and it’s important to approach the situation with the attention a tense/stressful/upsetting situation deserves. Often the solution is a simple listening ear.
Here’s another example.
A friend wanted to hang out. My schedule has been strangely busy so I didn’t prioritize this hangout. I pushed it off in fact. Liron, Sasha, cleaning, job, gym, cooking sanity, catch-ups – they all have a time and a place, right? But it became apparent that my humble gal pal didn’t need a simple girl hangout, some serious moral support and a listening ear was what she really needed! Girl, gotta let me know!!
I am partially at fault in both cases as I tend to be a better talker than a listener, something I’ve been working on for a while. So maybe I’m a dingbat and I need a little meeting prep for these things. Just saying, we all need support, we all need to be heard, and I think there’s a formula for getting what we need, especially for the ladies. You know we need to talk this stuff out more.
And there you have it. Thanks to the corporate world for making me a sort of maybe better person, at some point of my life perhaps.