It is sad, really. Every working day, the majority of us suffer from worthless and painful meetings that should have been avoided. These are those meetings that, with a little bit of intentionality, could have been scrubbed dysfunction-free. So what kinds of meetings am I talking about? Consider these particularly “dirty” gatherings that could have been made clean with a little pre-meeting hygiene:
“The ‘what’s the point’ meeting” – While you sit quietly in attendance, the question “what is the point of this meeting?” plays continuously in your head like a bad Pink song. No matter how hard you try, you can’t shake it. The more you resist, the louder it gets. As a result, you find concentrating nearly impossible. When it’s all over, you leave the meeting confused and angry. Another hour of your life gone forever.
“The birthday party” – The birthday party is a common meeting trap. The meeting organizer starts with a small list of attendees and quickly the list grows to include everyone he or she knows. There is little thought put into who needs to be in attendance. Rather the thinking is something more akin to planning a festive gala. The organizer thinks to him or herself, “The more people who come, the better. And who knows? They might bring food.” You know you are in one of these meetings when you look around the room and after trying to find the commonality with you and the other fifteen attendees, you say to yourself, “why am I here?” Pass another piece of cake.
“The ‘I’m gonna be fired’ meeting” – We all know the type. The person who leaves you a voicemail that simply says, “Call me back. We need to talk.” Vague and mysterious, these individuals refuse to tell you what they want to talk about, ever. As a result, your mind spins every time they make a request to connect. “What did I forget to do? Did I say something I shouldn’t have? What could they possibly be angry with me about?” They create an anxiety whirlwind in our minds as we begin to plot out worst-case scenarios. When these people schedule meetings, they do the same thing. No agenda. No objective. Nothing other than a meeting request. And if the person is your boss, in the back of your mind you wonder, “Am I going to be fired?” Wasted anxiety and worry that accomplishes nothing other than elevating your blood pressure and shortening your life expectancy.
So how do you avoid these messy meetings? Simple. Consider the following prescription on proper pre-meeting hygiene. Rub-a-dub-dub.
The steps above are simple and obvious and yet very few meetings qualify as “clean” based on the above criteria. So, do you and your team members a favor and show up all cleaned up and ready to go. And spread the word. All it takes is one badly planned meeting to stink up the place. Yuck.
Next Up: What do you do when you are in a dysfunctional meeting? The best ways to stomp out meeting dysfunction in the moment are on deck. Stay tuned…