A meeting of minds

images-15Another meeting at work. How unexciting. I know I’m not the only one with this opinion, but I do hate meetings. And, after many years in the workforce, I know exactly how each meeting will go.

To begin with, the scheduled start time will not be respected. If it’s meant to start at say, 4 o’clock, nothing will really happen until at least 4:15. This means that if you get there on time, you still have to wait. So the best thing to do is to arrive 15 minutes late. It is highly unlikely that you will miss a single thing.

Secondly, there will be junk food. There is an old saying: “If you want people to attend meetings, you must feed them.” This may or may not be true, but why is it always store-bought muffins. cookies or donuts, all chock-full of fats? Occasionally, there may be a fruit plate, but there are always way more desserts. And I always eat a donut that tastes of sugar swimming in fat. And I always wonder why the hell I did THAT again.

A corollary of the junk food is the fact that you will then spend a great deal of time during the meeting passing the food around. Just when there may be an item of interest and you’d like to pay attention for a change, somebody will tap you on the arm and whisper, “Pass this down” while handing you a box of Timbits.

And speaking of attention, it goes without saying that most of the items on the agenda will be of absolutely no interest to anybody at the meeting, save the person who planned that agenda. Except for perhaps one matter that is listed as #19 of 27. Time enough for a small nap while you wait – except that …

There are always a couple of people at every meeting who simply can’t shut up. I mean, none of us are paying much attention to what is going on, but some people just have to comment on EVERYTHING – and they are sitting right beside you. And when there is a small lull, they start muttering about something stupid their husband said to them last night, or why we should have assigned parking spots. Of course, this also means that when #19 actually arrives (you remember: the one item that you really wanted to concentrate upon), you won’t be able to hear it because your chatty co-workers are wittering on about what a mess the art room used to be four or five years ago.

And the discussion items! Oh, how I dread those! Because it’s always the same naysayers who will drone on and on about why this idea will not work because we have never done it that way before, as well as the same Pollyannas who will chirp up with their perpetual, “Well, I think that sounds great! I think we should try it!” You know, real constructive comments. And they don’t just say it once. They say it many, many times. But who’s listening anyway?

The committee reports are just as bad. It seems that the people who chair these committees are always people who just want to hear their own voices. Their reports frequently go on for ten minutes, liberally punctuated with, “As I wrote in my recent email…” and “As you probably already know…”. The whole report can usually be summarized in one sentence – and the long version was already emailed to everybody last week anyway. So why waste our time now?

And the chairperson never seems to understand their job. At many of the meetings I attend, the chair is a rotating job, but I truly think that the wrong people sign up for it. Note to those people: do not attempt to chair a meeting if: a) you are very timid and don’t like to speak in front of others, b) you do not like to interrupt discussion to get people to return to the actual topic that is supposed to be discussed, and c) you have no concept of time and allow the meeting to go on and on and on and on and on and on …

After a lot of thought and deliberation about this, I believe I now have a pretty efficient way of dealing with all these annoyances: call in sick on meeting days.


8 responses to “A meeting of minds

  1. You should delete Matt’s comment. He’s a master spammer. I get at least 20 comments from him a week telling me my blog is great. I even made a note of it in today’s post

  2. I love Dilbert – Sometimes it seems as if all my days have been spent in meetings, when I’m at work…

    We’ve moved on to timed agendas, and you keep to time – That appears to work – Partly… I’ve also heard of meetings where you all stand up, rather than sit – The tolerance for standing is less than it is for sitting, hence shorter and possibly more focused meetings? Wouldn’t like to try that meself!

  3. VioletSky – Yes, I’ve been involved in those fun little exercises too, and then when the minutes come out, wonder what on earth I voted for and why!

  4. And I love the passing of motions that are seconded and thirded before the motion has even been fully proposed, so desperate to get the hell out of there!

  5. XUP – When email was invented, I think face-to-face meetings should have been abolished!

    Jazz – When I have to take the minutes for a meeting, that’s really the only time I pay attention – but even then I usually don’t care a whole lot.

    Hannah – Oooh yes, I forgot all about the bad jokes! *shudder*

  6. Ech meetings! I hate the people in these meetings who loudly make bad jokes. Makes them even more painful.

  7. I hear you sister. I have to do the minutes of our regular branch manager conference calls – which means I have to attend, even though nothing they talk about is of any interest to me whatsoever. Actually I suspect it’s of no interest to them either. And it just goes on and on an on and on… Actually I should be doing the minutes right now, but I just can’t face the task… *shudder*

  8. Absolutely true. A really progressive workplace would ban meetings. They are completely unproductive and waste a lot of time we could be better using to live our lives or even to get real work done. Who thought up the meeting idea anyway? And why can’t we stop?