Interruptious Maximus

| January 31, 2012 | 0 Comments

You’re sitting in a meeting. It may or may not be a meeting in which you are: interested, participating, understanding, listening, when your mobile phone vibrates.

First, let me congratulate you on setting your phone to silent mode. Whether you just got lucky because you keep it silent while at work or because you always set it to silent before meetings (assuming you bring it at all) you are a considerate employee.

But now what to do? If you have your phone with you, you must be waiting for a call or text (or why not leave it at your desk?). So you, bringing as little attention to yourself as you can, check your phone. If it is important and you must respond immediately, you – quietly as possible – leave the meeting, respond, and return.  See, you are a considerate employee, just like I said.

Five minutes later, across the meeting room, anti-you strikes. It starts with the easily identifiable, but muffled chorus of the latest hit pop song.  The meeting halts and all eyes turn toward anti-you as the song becomes annoyingly loud with the removal of his phone from a hip case. Putting it directly to his ear and raising one finger in the air (one minute?) he answers and has a complete conversation, terminating with a “Sure Honey, I can grab the Chinese on the way home. I’m in a meeting now, gotta go.” Then, while placing the phone back in its case, he proclaims into the silence, “Wives, don’t they understand we have work to do?” Then, “So, what did I miss?”

Anti-you is annoying and very inconsiderate (among other things). Someone should probably challenge him to an office duel, or two. But although his behavior is terrible, there is another meeting interruption that is actually worse.

That worse interruption is the meeting within a meeting. This is when there is a meeting in progress and two or more people in attendance have their own smaller meeting for a few sentences to a few minutes. These usually happen with people in the back of the meeting room, or at the far end of the meeting table, or in an office on the other end of the phone. This secondary meeting is usually about some minor point that was brought up during the actual meeting, but sometimes it’s just something that struck someone who couldn’t keep his or her mouth shut.

This is an issue because it interrupts those around them. Meetings (no matter how boring they are) exist to make moving specific information from one person to a group of people or to gather information from a group of people, more efficient. Meetings within meetings stop this flow of information, or at the least, slow the flow to a drip.

The rule: Meetings are already painful enough without lengthening them, so don’t interrupt.

So shorten your meetings by cutting out these types of interruptions. Almost everything can wait (write it down if you’re afraid of forgetting it), but if it can’t wait try to interrupt as little as possible. Life is better when not sitting in a meeting. 🙂


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Category: Rules for Work

Phil Jackson

About the Author ()

Philip "Phil" Jackson has determined that the biggest problem in the world is stupidity. "Most people don't seem to have basic Common Sense, but if they have a list of rules to follow, I have found that they will do so willingly." So after years of experience living he has decided to help out the ignorant by compiling the missing life rules into an easy to read and understandable format.

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