How to Love Meetings

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Flood G desk square1

A quick glance at the calendar on my BlackBerry, and I see the day is going to be slammed with meetings. I will have a total of 90 minutes that won’t be in meetings—three 30-minute stretches when I can squeeze in a few e-mails, return phone calls, touch base with my team, and have needed conversations with colleagues.

That is, assuming the meetings start and end as scheduled.

Bad assumption. They won’t, and they don’t. People arrive late, information has to be repeated, and the meetings inevitably run long. Instead of three 30-minute breaks, I have three ten- to fifteen-minute breaks. E-mails will be delayed, some phone calls not returned, and conversations with team members pushed off until tomorrow.

Can you tell I don’t like meeting days?

As I prepare for this one, I decide I will do three things: Help keep each meeting on track; listen to see what the real purpose of the meeting is; and assess each meeting for its value to the company, my team, and my own work.

It beats sitting at a conference table with a sullen look on my face.

I look at my meeting calendar again: first a coordination meeting; then a leadership team meeting; an outside vendor presentation; a cross-functional team meeting; and finally a meeting of me and two other people to figure out how best to explain a significant business activity.

Each meeting has its own participants, purpose, goals and expected outcomes. Some are simple: share information, inform, or discuss. Others are more complex: persuade, convince, mediate, calm down, or allay fears.

Each meeting also shares characteristics with the others—reach some level of understanding and perhaps stimulate both individual and collective action.

But meetings are like people. They can be moving forward as planned and then suddenly derailed into tangents and side-issues. People can get defensive and political. Unanticipated conflicts may emerge. The elephant in the room might become uncomfortably large and can’t be ignored any longer. Or people refuse to do their part of what’s planned because they say their resources are already constrained.

But this day, I decide that if I am to show love to the people I work with, then this day will be different from other meeting days.

I will ask ahead of time for an agenda.

I will come prepared to each meeting. I will read pre-meeting materials and be prepared to discuss them.

I will listen far more than I talk. I will pay attention to the unseen drivers of the meeting—the hopes, fears, problems, and issues that always drive people, and thus drive the business. Also the ones that stop the people and stop the business.

I will honor each participant in the meeting before the meeting starts. I will consider them as God considers them—valuable individuals created in God’s image and given gifts, skills and abilities.

If I sense the meeting going off-track or tension rising, I will pray silently right there in the meeting.

It’s 9 a.m. The first meeting is starting. I walk down the hall and enter the conference room.

Post by Glynn Young.

Image by Flood G. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.