Facta non verba (Deeds not words)
According to Meriam Webster:
“Simple Definition of meeting : a gathering of people for a particular purpose (such as to talk about business) : a gathering of people for religious worship : a situation or occasion when two people see and talk to each other.”
My job involves many meetings which I would gleefully forgo if I could get away with it (not get fired.) I need to be present, somewhat sentient and most enervating of all record minutes for each proceeding. [An aside: evidently I am a minute taker par excellence, a regular Ninja minute taker. (as if anyone other than a nitpicking drone would ever actually read them) I think I’ll have an inscription on my tombstone ”She came, she saw, she took great minutes.” Being a “great minute taker” is like being the best hog caller in Bugtustle, not the kind of thing for which you want to be known.
The same personality types seem to show up at meetings. These types create impasses, bottlenecks and inertia – the antithesis of getting things done.Why is it that so many people are incapable of simply meeting together, having a fruitful discussion and moving forward? I attended many meetings where nothing was accomplished, where the same topics kept coming back like walkers on the Walking Dead and valuable minutes of my life were wasted when I could have been reading or writing. As Mao Tse Tung once acidly remarked, “%^&* or get off the pot!”
10 Common Personality Types at meetings:
- The Bumptious Blowhard: His or her ultimate goal is to dominate and shove their opinions down everyone’s throats. (I would like to shove their opinions somewhere else.)
- The Obfuscator: This one never, ever makes any sense, uses tortuous logic and 50 words when 5 will do.
- The Man/Woman who wasn’t there: They sit with a strained/bored look on their faces, regularly look down at their phones and wish they were somewhere else. I can relate.
- The Pettifogger: They expound on the most inconsequential points ad nauseam. This usually chews up valuable time at the start of the meeting so that the rest of the agenda is rushed or has to be tabled.They make me long for a roll of duct tape.
- Voted-most-likely-to-veer-off-topic: Closely related to the pettifogger, they talk about some tangential point only faintly related to the topic at hand. Alway long winded, they go on while the clock ticks precious seconds off your life. Another candidate for duct tape.
- The Perennial Absentee: They simply don’t show up, the meeting never seems to “match their schedules”. Some other poor schmuck gets stuck doing the meeting-skipper’s share of the work.
- The Narcissist: The meetings are a showcase for their incredible talents, skills and hubris. They love the sound of their own voice and trot out some obscure nuggets likely culled from a handout at least 10 years out of date.
- The-Thick-as-a-Brick: They stop to ask questions every 2 minutes, then do not bother to pay attention – everything has to be explained over and over and over again. Tedious.
- The Debbie Downer: They complain and find fault but take no action to improve the situation. Always find a problem with any decision taken, including what kind of office garbage bags to buy. Eats away at morale and everyone’s nerves.
- Most dangerous of all – the BIG IDEA person: One brilliant idea after another spurts from their febrile imaginations. The only problem is that abstract ideas are all they have. When the rubber hits the road they have no clue how to actually make things happen. Guess what? That part falls on the shoulders of the worker bees while the Big Idea person takes credit for everything.
A saviour in the form of a strong chairperson who doesn’t suffer fools gladly and takes no crap can thwart most of these types. Having a clear purpose and outcomes can help improve meetings along with an achievable agenda and an understanding of roles and processes. Listening to people talk makes me realize there are two types of people in the world: the talkers and the doers. I know which one I want to be. I also believe successful meetings involve R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (an item in short supply these days) for other people and their time. Life is waaaaaaaaaaay too short to spend at a meeting that should have been an email!