5 Min ReadBusiness 26 May 2020
I once worked for a leader who would never let a bad meeting happen to anyone, and, most importantly, not to him. He didn't want his time wasted. He made it clear he simply didn't have the time to waste.
"How did the launch perform in the first four weeks versus prior launches?"
"What's the price per ounce comparison versus the competition?"
"Who have we sourced volume from or is this incremental growth to the category?"
He rattled off the questions, looking at his iPhone, back at us, and then at his iPhone again. One by one by one, he just plopped the questions onto the large conference room table. My manager fumbled, nervously tapping his fingers and responding with vague phrases sprinkled with awkward laughs. And I was equally unprepared, staring at the geese wandering outside our campus.
There are plenty of bad things happening right now. We don't need to add the stress of a bad meeting to that list.
"This meeting is over," our leader declared, abruptly standing up and proceeding to make a call as he walked out the door. "Reschedule when you are prepared. No reason for us to continue and waste each other's time."
That was one of the few meetings I have ever had in Corporate America that only lasted four minutes.
It was one of the most valuable lessons I learned early in my career about what constituted a good meeting: always come prepared. Preparation to make a meeting as painless as possible was key. Otherwise, you have to be prepared to kill the meeting as one of my favorite leaders always did.
Moving forward, our meetings with this leader were never more than 30 minutes. We debated the facts. We made decisions. We made mistakes and we learned. We moved the business forward. And, we actually had fun in these meetings.
Since that time, I am sad to report that on a number of occasions, as a leader I have let bad meetings happen to the good people around me. I have allowed them. I have enabled them. I have witnessed them. I have even encouraged them, letting them go on for minutes and hours longer than they should have. Sometimes, even including the dreaded bad "follow-up" meeting. Or worse, the bad pre-meeting before the actual bad meeting.
Since that time, I am sad to report that on a number of occasions, as a leader I have let bad meetings happen to the good people around me.
And we are dangerously close to bad meetings becoming a professional pandemic as we work remotely during this actual pandemic.
The real question is: Why do we allow a bad meeting to happen and then to continue in the first place?
Because we as leaders want to hold court and have our teams surround us — basically we like to make ourselves feel important. And meetings make us feel important because holding meetings give us a false sense of productivity and control in a time when we have very little.
Because if it's not my meeting, why should I care? After all, I am busy trying to peel and slice my kid an apple, while teaching my other kid how to spell "flower," and trying to pay attention and add some value in whatever meeting I am in at the same time. I have no energy, no mental capacity to intervene when a good meeting starts to turn into a bad meeting. Because now my daughter is having a tantrum and my son's password for his Zoom Spanish class isn't working and can someone else please just step in and stop this bad meeting?
The real question is: Why do we allow a bad meeting to happen and then to continue in the first place?
Because honestly, in the moment, none of us can muster up the courage to say, "Hey this is a bad meeting. A very bad meeting indeed. Let's end this and reschedule when we can actually have a good meeting."
The more I think about it. No one ever starts off wanting to host or schedule a bad meeting. Here are five ways I have seen meetings take a turn for the worse.
Introductions that tell your life story.
At a recent meeting, the facilitator said "Please keep your introductions to 2-3 minutes. There's always a rogue actor who doesn't stop talking." When an introduction starts off with "When I used to be captain of the high school lacrosse team," it will never end well. So please be brief with your introductions, your check-ins, and your opening remarks.
No one is in charge.
Who is making the decisions? Who keeps track of what happens next? Who can kill the meeting and put us all out of our misery? Please don't host a meeting without a strong facilitator. Just don't do it.
Are we there yet? Where are we going?
You join this meeting and soon discover that no one knows why the meeting is happening and what the objective of the meeting really is. Participants start discussing all sorts of other random topics. And it continues to spiral downward. It reminds me of my kids screaming in the car "Are we there yet?" And if you have no idea what the point of the meeting was, you will never meet your objectives. It will become the never-ending road trip from hell. With no snacks and no bathroom breaks.
No one is prepared.
Because your peers had no idea they had to be prepared let alone what they had to actually prepare. They likely had no idea what the meeting was about or why they were even invited... Why are we here again?
Is anyone even listening?
It's hard to pay attention. We are living during a pandemic after all. If meetings are short and to-the-point, people will be there, be present, and pay attention. Please stop with all the full day, multi-hour virtual meetings without no more than a 5-minute break. Even if I am cutting my son's apple and teaching my daughter how to spell, I will still be listening. I have now become the master of multi-tasking after all.
So please don't let bad meetings happen to good people. There are plenty of bad things happening right now. We don't need to add the stress of a bad meeting to that list.
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Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.
It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.
At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.
So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.
Before You Dial The Ex...
First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.
What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?
You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.
Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.
If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.
Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.
Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.
If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.
As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:
- Do: exercise — taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
- Don't: be a couch potato.
- Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
- Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?