If you are a human being alive on planet Earth, you have attended a meeting. Some of us must attend a lot of meetings because of our work or position in the community. Meetings can be fun, but most of them are a lot of work. Some meetings are a train wreck if members strongly disagree about what is going on and/or dislike each other personally. Though you cannot prevent someone from embarrassing themselves, you should always prepare yourself so that you would not say something you regret. You also just might change the atmosphere to a more positive light that benefits everyone.
- Remember that the person you are annoyed by or disappointed in may be having a really bad day. It helps you to assume that they are not at the top of their game and you must give them some slack.
- Don’t expect to have the attention you think you deserve as you speak. Most people have never given a second thought to how to listen and very few have been professionally trained. Yes, I did say “professionally trained.” Listening is a genuine professional skill that humans do not inherently possess.
- Don’t belabor the point you are trying to get across. It will help if you are extremely clear and concise about your message. Don’t get lost in the “weeds.”
- If you feel the communication is working, you might be tempted to “get it all out” once you start but remember that people have limited bandwidth and patience to deal effectively with the tedious nature of personal conflict or even sustained concentration. If you push too hard to conquer territory intellectually, it might blow up in your face and you may lose all the progress you have fought for. Continue being thoughtful and careful, even if things are going well.
- Remember that even your most wonderful and insightful ideas will often be ignored or shot down by people who are not paying attention, don’t care, or have not been given enough time to absorb what you are saying. Try not to be overly annoyed at them. Most of us tend to ignore or criticize anything new. It is part of our human nature made even worse by the fact other’s ideas usually include an element that requires a lot more work on your part, not theirs. In addition, they are doing you a favor by intellectually testing the weaknesses of your proposal.
- Always listen carefully anyway, remembering that almost everything we see around us was simply an idea at one time that needed work and developing. The best ideas might come from a random place or at an inconvenient time. Don’t let your fatigue or annoyance with a person cause you to miss the only productive, insightful, or positive thing they might have to say during your time with them at the meeting.
Have fun with this (if possible) and don’t give up. You might be the key that turns that uncomfortable and unproductive get-together into something that delivers satisfying results after all.