Are You a Meeting Animal?

We all know that person who tries to dominate a meeting- answering rhetorical questions, making counterpoints to their own points, pushing their agenda without any chance for input. Then they instantly become disengaged when they are finished with their rant. They read their phone, start sidebar conversations, and fidget in their chair until their time to pounce comes again.

Of all of the types of meeting goers, which also include the note taker, the contrarian, the face maker and the disinterested attendee, this person is the worst attendee. Their only agenda is to win the meeting, to prove that they are smarter, louder, and more aggressive than everyone else.

Ask yourself, “Am I that person?” If you are, please stop. Meetings are supposed to be for collaboration and team problem solving. If you need more attention, call your mom and ask if she is available to give you a hug. Your insecurities are hurting your team, your reputation and your career. Being passionate about the meeting subject is fine. Just be respectful that others may have different styles and perspectives and together you will solve the problems. It is really difficult to be an independent contributor in a group setting.

If you are running a meeting and you have a hijacker, you need to gain control of the situation. You need to exhibit strong leadership skills. Statements that redirect the meeting to your stated goals are important. “Thank you for the input, Tom. I think you covered that topic very well. Now we are going to discuss… Kate do you have any input.”

Put an end to cellphone use and sidebars immediately. Remind people that not only are those activities disrespectful, they increase the length of the meeting and reduce the effectiveness of the team. Be ready to handle snide comments with grace. Remember, you are in control of the meeting.

Plenty of books and articles have been written about the art of conducting/attending meetings. All of their main points center on respect- respecting the attendees, their time, their views and the moderator. Remember whether you are running the meeting or a willing participant, the way you respect your peers will go further than any idea that you have.

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