The Diablog™

Why do we hate meetings? Here’s one reason.

Remember when Thumper said to Bambi, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”? Before you think I’ve gone all soft, there’s an aspect of this scene that people conveniently forget. Before delivering his most quotable quote, Thumper had just said something rude and got thumped by his mom.

We’re all a bunch of Thumpers, and we don’t always remember getting thumped by our moms. The business meeting can reveal our true nature. All too often, meetings turn into fermenting Petri dishes of bad attitude, and mom isn’t there to thump us.

Here’s a rule we should all try to follow: don’t bring problems to a meeting; bring solutions. I think I’ll write my Congressman to see if this can be made a law. Think about recent meetings that frustrated you. I would bet that useless whining contributed to your frustration. Ranting about problems brings progress to a standstill.

The real power of a face-to-face meeting is collaboration. Put a group of solution-based thinkers in a room together, and amazing things will happen. Add a few whiners, and everyone gets defensive. So how do you keep meetings productive?

1) If you have a problem, get to work on a solution on your own - even if you think it’s not your job. If it affects you, you can contribute to a solution.

2) Don’t dump your problem on the group. At least try to solve it before asking for help. If the problem is outside your expertise, the internet is a great resource for finding solutions if you take the initiative to try. If you can’t figure it out on your own, find an expert to help you look for options, and bring those options to the meeting.

3) Remove negativity from the mix. If you have a meeting spoiled by a whiner, don’t invite the whiner to the next meeting. If they confront you about the omission, tell them the truth. This strategy only works if the whiner is subordinate to others in the group.

4) If the negativity is coming from a superior, you can still find opportunities to collaborate without conspicuously omitting the whiner. Go to lunch with fellow positive-thinkers. Go have a drink or a cup of coffee after work. Bring the results of your casual collaboration to the next formal meeting.

5) Every meeting must have leadership. The person in charge of the meeting should vigilantly shut down whining as soon as possible. Tell the whiner that you understand the issue, but now you would like their solution. If they have one, great! Act on it. If they don’t, tell them to work on one and bring it to the next meeting.

Solution-based thinking is valuable. It adds value to an employee within a company, and it adds to the overall success of the company.

I am fortunate that my job allows me to see the value of solution-based thinking firsthand. Dialogs Professional Services provides solutions to the sales and marketing issues that challenge our customers, and with our solutions, our customers succeed.