Let’s admit this, no one likes meetings at work, except for the supposed ‘leader’ of the team. Heck, even he doesn’t like meetings but must call them to throw around his authority. The faff that gets generated at the speed of light in most corporate meetings is phenomenal. You could have ‘Subject Matter Experts’ being born on the back of an article or two that they had read on the web or worse, about things they would have overheard. The agenda of the meeting is usually lost within the first five minutes and from thereon, it is just random conversation that ends with a conclusion to have another meeting.
These corporate meetings appear so absurd at times that you start to wonder how work is even getting done in your organisation. There obviously are the productive kind of meetings but they are so few in number that they do not even make the cut to be mentioned here. The question is – what should you do in such meetings?
Just switch off.
Take a deep breath, look around, lower your eyes and appear as if you are deeply interested in the discussion. You obviously, are not. Make sure that you carry a phone or a writing pad with you. Scribble away to glory or just catch up on the news. You get the drift, right?
Why should you switch off, at times?
Pointless meetings are a waste of time and if you are a part of a discussion that is heading nowhere, you would not be interested in it. It drains your energy and you know that there are better things to do with your time and energy. Do not expend your energy in wasteful discussion. You could have a person who asks for ideas or thoughts but is driving their own agenda in the meeting. Irrespective of your efforts to bring in a rational iota of thought in the discussion, that person will steer the meeting to their own agenda. When such a person has a higher authority than you, the steering manoeuvre is inevitable.
Are you being disrespectful to your job by switching off?
Absolutely not! You are conserving your energy. While it is a good exercise, you must know when to participate in a discussion, lest you be branded a non-compliant member of the team. Share your ideas where you believe the people around the table, on call or on the video are invigorated with the points of discussion. Share your wisdom and give a shot at making the lesser mortals more knowledgeable. Of course, there would be those who would mooch off your ideas and you know how to deal with them – switch off when they call the meeting. Make sure that everyone in the room has heard where the ideas came from and do not shy away from a quick and courteous rebuttal if someone else is trying to pass off your idea as their idea.
What should I do about the urge to prove the other guy wrong?
As I had mentioned earlier, a person with authority based on their job title, will try and out-manoeuvre you at every instance that you ask questions about their proposition. The mark of a weak ‘leader’ is that they get extremely uncomfortable and fidgety the moment someone puts forth a question to them. Make them uncomfortable. Ask questions. They will question back and if you are on solid ground, you would like that discussion. When you start feeling that the meeting is falling into a dark and bottomless abyss, like Jughead’s stomach, switch off. There’s no point arguing with someone who will throw their job title around to ‘show you your place’. Yes, that happens, way too often, in corporate meetings.
So, what do you want me to do? Don’t say Switch Off!
I would say that you take it easy and make eye contact with the elephant in the room. Make them uncomfortable. No, you are not an escapist, you just don’t believe that the discussion is worth your time. At the same time, don’t let it go to your head. Stay grounded and be courteous.
Image credit: Marie Ann Andersen