Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

meeting room

Ever feel frustrated or annoyed by how some people behave at meetings?

A recent survey shows you are not alone.

The survey firm Colmar Brunton sampled 1000 Kiwis and has come up with labels and the percentages for people who annoy us most.

The General (annoyed 30% of Kiwis in the survey) The General dominates meetings, orders colleagues around and ignores others' ideas.

The Black Hat (27%) is negative. In the Black Hat's view of the world, the tasks they've been set are unrealistic and other peoples' ideas aren't any good.

The Phone Junkie (26%) can't seem to stop checking messages, emails and social media.

The Hijacker (23%) derails meetings by bringing up irrelevant topics, doesn't get what the meeting is about, goes off topic, distracting everyone and wasting the group's time.

The Chatterbox (23%) just won't shut up. Chatterboxes talk and talk and talk, but somehow don't say much that's useful.

Recognise anyone?

Perhaps you're thinking 'Who behaves like that in my meetings?' and, Heaven forbid, 'Am I ever like that?'

They're certainly good questions to ponder. But even better than that, the survey results invite us to reflect on our own meeting behaviours.

We all know at times when we're pushed, tired, overloaded or worried about getting it all done, we are tempted to be more controlling, perhaps even passive-aggressive. That's when some of the most unproductive behaviours can surface.

Ideas for more productive meetings

How much more productive would your meetings be if you all followed these suggestions. (Notice how these guidelines discourage bad behaviour.) 

  • Agree to a clear set of guidelines that support mutual respect and collaborative decision-making.
  • Reflect on what you can do to involve yourself, be engaged, and help everyone else move things forward.
  • Listen actively, with questions to check that you've understood - and acknowledge that you've heard what people have said.
  • Come prepared, having read the briefs, and ready to answer open questions.
  • Develop a clear set of actions so that everyone feels motivated to make them happen.

It's likely you're already doing at least some of those things. Maybe you could make more use of them.