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What We Can Learn About Meetings From the Rare People Who Actually Enjoy Them

Topics: Work Culture
Complaining about meetings is the unofficial sport of many workplaces. In fact, according to a recent Harris poll, sponsored by the online collaboration company Clarizen, 17 percent of employees said they would literally rather watch paint dry than attend a meeting, and eight percent would rather undergo a root canal. However, every now and again you come across a person, or even a group of people, who actually really enjoy meetings. Maybe we can learn something important about ourselves, or at least about how we collaborate, from thinking about their approach. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Complaining about meetings is the unofficial sport of many workplaces. In fact, according to a recent Harris poll, sponsored by the online collaboration company Clarizen, 17 percent of employees said they would literally rather watch paint dry than attend a meeting, and eight percent would rather undergo a root canal. However, every now and again you come across a person, or even a group of people, who actually really enjoy meetings. Maybe we can learn something important about ourselves, or at least about how we collaborate, from thinking about their approach. Here are a few ideas to consider.

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(Photo Credit: Office Now/Flickr)

1. They are more appealing to people who keep a “manager’s schedule.”

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This is an idea that’s been around for quite a while. Originally introduced by Paul Graham, an essayist and venture capitalist, and recently discussed in an article in The New York Times, the theory goes like this: Managers tend to think of their schedules in terms of hour-long blocks whereas other employees think in terms of tasks that need to be accomplished. Long stretches of blank, unscheduled time help them to relax into their creativity and move work forward. Managers, on the other hand, are able to move their managerial agendas forward via the meeting. The rest of us tend to just feel interrupted by them.

“Don’t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all?” Graham wrote in his 2009 essay Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule via the New York Times. “Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don’t.”

So, are meetings more enjoyable for people who are more invested in managing people and tasks than actually accomplishing them? Perhaps. Even if this doesn’t exactly apply within your organization, it’s interesting to consider the way different folks schedule and use time. It’s likely that these different mindsets seriously impact the way that we all utilize, engage in, and view, meetings.

2. Meetings are more interesting when they are, well, more interesting.

Times have changed, and offices have changed right along with them. Shouldn’t meetings look a little different than they did decades ago as well? Some companies are really taking this to heart and simply doing away with meetings all together and finding their company is better for it. Virtual meetings have also changed things up quite a bit.

Still though, there are some offices that enjoy the quaint and now old-timey face-to-face meeting. But, that doesn’t mean that a bunch of suits have to sit around a big board room table and politely take turns reporting, delegating, etc. No. Meetings should be dynamic, creative, and exciting. They should serve a purpose, bring creative people (and their ideas) together, and inspire. It’s no wonder that people who work for companies that have meetings like that are less likely to complain about them.

3. People tend to like meetings when they don’t get a chance to socialize otherwise.

Another reason that some managers, and other employees too, enjoy a good meeting once in a while is because they provide a social opportunity while doing a job that is otherwise pretty solitary. People enjoy collaboration and interaction during the workday, and meetings do provide a space for that.

Try to enjoy the social aspect of your next meeting. Maybe even allow yourself to goof off a little. It’s been shown that these interactions can strengthen bonds and improve job performance. Meetings don’t have to be boring and seemingly endless. Some people actually really enjoy them. Maybe you can, too.

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How do you feel about meetings? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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