This is the second of three posts in a series (the first).
There was a time of my life when I absolutely dreaded being called into someone’s office, because it generally meant one of three things:
- I was going to be given more work to do (I already had too much to do and not enough time to do it).
- I was going to sit through a meeting that wasn’t going to do anything for me other than take time away from my other tasks.
- I was going to be “yelled at” for something falling through the cracks because I was working on other higher priority issues and now this thing was the high priority.
No option was something I wanted to spend my time on.
This is the second of three posts where I’ll go through one option and review how I reacted and an alternate that might have made me (and the people around me happier).
2. I was going to sit through a meeting that wasn’t going to do anything for me than take time away from my other tasks.
How I reacted:
My thoughts upon learning I would be in a meeting were generally along the lines of: Ugh! Another meeting that I have to sit through when I could be doing something productive! Why do I need to waste my time there? I don’t have anything useful to contribute, and if I do it will be dismissed. And even though it’s only scheduled to take 30 minutes, it’ll go for at least 45, because they won’t start until everyone’s there and that will take at least ten minutes. And that’s if we don’t sit waiting for someone for a bit and then get told that they’re stuck in some other meeting or on a support call, and then we get to go through the whole process again! Ugh! Why can’t I just stay at my desk and get my stuff done?
First, spending time waiting for people to show up at a meeting can be really frustrating. However, one thing that never crossed my mind was that I was late pretty often too, or couldn’t make it, due to another meeting running long or being on a support call. Some how though, that was acceptable behavior for me, but not for others. I don’t think I realized that I was contributing to the same behavior that I found so frustrating. In this case, I could have acknowledged that I was frustrated and perhaps noted my own contribution to it and then moved on to something else.
I also automatically assumed that my opinion would be dismissed. When you make a suggestion or share an opinion with the thought in your head that it’s going to be dismissed, other people pick up on that. Why should they spend time exploring a suggestion that you don’t believe in? However, when you believe in your suggestion, that confidence is shown in your tone and body language. Others are much more likely to spend time exploring a suggestion they can tell you have confidence in.
While I was in meetings I was so absorbed with thinking about the things that I needed to get done at my desk that I wasn’t paying very close attention to the meeting. So, of course I wasn’t getting a lot out of the meeting or contributing to it! When I went into the meetings with an open and positive mind (meaning I wasn’t walking in saying “this is a waste of my time”) I got more out of the meetings, contributed more and occasionally (shh, don’t tell anyone) had fun! And when I went in with that attitude, waiting for ten minutes for a meeting to happen wasn’t so frustrating. Instead, I was able to talk with people I might not see on a regular basis and catch up with them. And if the meeting didn’t happen, it felt more like a nice break then a waste of my time.
What you expect, you get. When I expected an experience that wasted my time and was frustrating, I pretty much always got it. And when I expected an experience that would be useful and helpful to me (and maybe even fun), I pretty much always got that too. The people and the meetings didn’t really change, but what I expected out of the meetings did change.
What are your thoughts on this?