Monday, February 5, 2007

February 5, 2007 – 5 Things Not to Say During a Meeting

Every now and then I say things that get me into trouble. I’ll be sitting in another exciting meeting and that part of my brain that is supposed to keep me from making a fool of myself falls asleep. It usually happens when the facilitator has allowed someone to monopolize the discussion or the topic is going nowhere.

Based on those types of meetings I have learned that there are certain things you shouldn’t say. Here are 5 things you will want to add to your list:

1. “Four out of the five voices told me your idea really stinks.” Although it may be true, no one likes a dissenting voice. Obviously if the voices in your head were all in agreement you wouldn’t mention it. Besides, “stinks” is such a harsh word. Try something like “I have some misgivings about your idea.”
2. “You’re not the boss of me.” This is especially true if the person you are saying it to is your manager.
3. “Whatever” sarcastically while holding up 3 fingers like a “W” and then turning them to look like an “E.” I’ve found that the proper use of fingers during conversation is tricky. Besides, technically “whatever” is one word so it would just be a “W” which wouldn’t mean anything to anyone.
4. “As far as you know.” Although this is an honest answer to a question, chances are it will just confuse them and make people upset.
5. “I see your lips moving but all I hear is ‘blah, blah, blah.’” If you choose not to listen to someone, simply nod your head and smile.

If any of these things happen to spill out of your mouth there is one trick that may save your bacon. Look truly surprised that you said it and add, “Oh! I’m sorry. Was that out loud?” Maybe you can pass it off as one of the voices in your head.

1 comment:

Josh Nankivel said...

I enjoyed this post Thomas, it made me laugh.

As an analyst managing my own small projects and working on larger project teams, I've got something to add. These used to slip out of my mouth quite a bit, which is why I bite my tongue when I'm not actively talking in meetings now.

"Sure, we can do that" - when committing to something outside of the original scope without proper documentation/justification.

"I'd suggest doing it this way" - when commenting on a decision that is not your ballgame, and even though you may think your way is better, it's important for the group in question to own the idea they plan to execute on. I used to be guilty of giving my unsolicited 2 cents when invited as an "optional" member in a meeting where only about 10 minutes of it really concerned me.

Josh Nankivel