(Continued from last week – check out the ‘Learning’ category if you missed it.)
So a meeting is going sideways. What do you do? Well, there are several options:
- Let it! There’s nothing that’s more fun than watching grown men and women quibble over the placement of a comma.
- Meekly attempt to interject a word of wisdom, only to be frozen solid by the icy glare of a manager, while she reams out another participant.
- Take charge of the situation by (loudly) reminding all the participants why they’re there.
Obviously, #3 is the way to go, though try to keep your voice down. The key is: when do you do this? It all depends on the situation and the people involved. It’s important that you know the personalities of the people in the meeting. Some people need to get things off their chest, or they’ll sit there and not contribute to the meeting. Others will blather on and on, bringing up long-buried affronts that no one else can remember.
You need to let people have their say, then be prepared to jump in once you think they’ve had enough time, or the meeting is going to veer completely off course. Sometimes this can be intimidating because meetings usually involve one or more people who make a heckuva lot more than you do. But stick to your guns and everyone will appreciate it.
In general, I’m speaking of meetings where you’re the moderator (and probably organizer). It’s much harder to do what I’ve advised when you’re the person who’s screaming at the top of his or her lungs. But if you take my earlier tenet to heart, that no work actually gets done in a meeting, imagine how much less work gets done when no one is talking to each other. It might even be negative work.