Three Types Of Terrible Meetings (And How To Fix Them)

Oh my god, this meeting sucks. Why? Here are three big candidates/clinical descriptions of why this is a waste of time:

The small talk tango (where we verbally dance around nothingness),

The ossified agenda (where we have an agenda, but it’s a fossil record of topics that were only previously presumed to be alive),

The default diagnosis (where I’m being lectured by an aloof loaf of self-proclaimed authority).

You didn’t think I meant your meeting did I? No no no. I meant my own meetings and maybe some others’ too. If I slip into one of these? Oh lord, the trauma. This is bad news. Having names for them can help.

If we feel ourselves slipping into the small talk tango, the ossified agenda, or the default diagnosis, we have a chance to course-correct before it’s too late.

We can cut small talk short with a break to what needs to be discussed. We can nip an ossified agenda with a request to prioritize for immediate action. We can avoid slipping into default diagnosis by just not doing it, and if someone is doing it to us, well, that’s a post for another day.

Having clear labels for problems can help us avoid or at least get out of them when they arise. Here’s to better meetings.

footnote: I got this idea from Michael Bungay Stanier’s massively insightful book “The Coaching Habit.”