Make the Best of Every Meeting
If you don’t like attending meetings, you’re not alone. Most workers feel there are simply too many meetings to attend on a daily and weekly basis, and that many of them are entirely unnecessary. But meetings don’t have to be that way, says Richard Carlson, Ph.D, and author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work, who has two secrets to making virtually any meeting both interesting and productive.
The first is to use the meeting to practice being “present moment-oriented.” In other words, try to absorb yourself in the meeting – and don’t allow your mind to wander. This deliberate attempt to be focused will allow you to get as much value out of the experience as possible.
You can spend your time daydreaming or wishing you were somewhere else, but that doesn’t help you in your job or in your career. Meetings provide an opportunity to show your superiors and coworkers that you are really a good listener. This will help you be highly responsive to whatever is being discussed. That way, if there is something you can contribute, you can make a strong impression with your answer.
Carlson says that by employing the “present moment” technique he has found meetings to be far more interesting. Additional insights come to mind and he feels as though he has more to offer. He has also noticed an increased sense of respect from others. They may not be consciously aware of it, but it seems that when those present in a meeting sense that you are truly paying attention, they want to listen to you as well.
The second secret is to tell yourself that you are going to learn something from each meeting. Listen intently to what is said and try to hear something you don’t already know. Rather than comparing what you’re hearing to what you already believe, search for new wisdom, a new insight, or a new way to do something.
Carlson says he has found that when his intent is to learn, he almost always does learn something. Instead of saying “Yeah, Yeah, I already know this stuff,” try to clear your mind and allow yourself to have a beginner’s mind.
The best-selling author reports that since he has begun doing this, the results have been quite impressive and significant. His learning curve dramatically increased, and meetings became fun again. “I’ve learned to make the best of it. The way I look at it is this: I’m at the meeting anyway. Why not spend the time in a productive, healthy way, practicing valuable emotional skills instead of wishing I were somewhere else,” he says.
Try practicing what Carlson suggests. By doing so, our bet is that you’ll make your work life more interesting and effective.