Dear Meeting Guru,

I have recently discovered that I'm a lousy meeting attendee. If you can identify a bad meeting behavior, I've probably demonstrated it. Frequent side conversations, extraneous comments and lots of nitpicking. I think I've even invented some bad ones of my own. So...I know my problem but seem stuck as to how to fix it. Any suggestions?

Anonymous

Blessed Meeter,

It takes great courage to recognize one's shortcomings. Since you've already come this far, I'm confident you will be able to change your negative meeting behavior. Here are some ideas for breaking your bad meeting habits:

Avoid side conversations by writing down questions or comments as you think of them. If the comments are related to the topic of the meeting, wait for an opening and share your ideas with everyone. If they're not, address them after the meeting. Then start being an active listener – pay attention, make eye contact and respond positively to the presenter.

Also, figure out why you're nitpicking and making unwanted comments, and take action. If the topics are boring or the presenters longwinded, come up with some fresh ideas, such as new ways to meet or new rules for talking out of turn.

Most importantly, determine what's behind your negative behavior. Are you unhappy with the way meetings are run? Is there not enough time for attendee feedback? Are you attending too many meetings? If these things are making you resentful, speak up – before the meeting – and suggest some changes to make your meetings more interesting and effective.

There are many other tips on EffectiveMeetings.com. As a starting point, read Meetings 101 and How to Be an Effective Team Member.

As the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "The real fault is to have faults and not try to mend them." In other words, don't be so hard on yourself. At least you realize you need to make some changes to become a better meeting attendee.

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.

 

 


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