The Five Meeting Etiquette Offenses
Truth be told, the thought of taking time out of our already busy schedules for a meeting can cause resentment in the workplace. This feeling of distain for meetings tends to stem from a lack of meeting etiquette that turns an important idea sharing session into a waste of valuable time. Since meetings are a necessary means of communication in the workplace, there should be a code of conduct that is followed to ensure that meetings run smoothly, stay on track and are meaningful to all in attendance.
If you are not aware of meeting etiquette, you may be at risk of becoming a repeat offender. Unfortunately, inconsiderate meeting behavior occurs so frequently that individuals may not even realize how their actions impact their team. The ramifications of a lack of meeting etiquette include lower productivity, lower morale and ineffective use of company time. Be aware of these five popular offenses so that you can avoid them in your professional life.
- Tardiness: If you typically find yourself tiptoeing into meetings five or more minutes late, you are not following proper meeting etiquette. You may think that your tardiness has gone undetected, but that is rarely the case. Not only does your tardiness prevent your prompt coworkers from starting the meeting on time, but even the stealthiest ninja can cause a distraction while attempting to find a seat once a meeting has begun. Stop interrupting meetings with your tardiness by arriving ten minutes early, allowing yourself plenty of time to find a seat, get situated, and finish any emails so that the meeting can begin on time. Arriving on time will show your coworkers that you value their time as much as your own.
*The importance of timeliness is not limited to in person meetings since joining a conference call late can be equally distracting. There’s nothing like hearing the “ping, ping, ping” of people joining a conference call while a meeting is underway.
- Unpreparedness: Regardless of the role that you have in a meeting, you need to come prepared. As a leader, sending out agendas in advance as well as having presentation materials prepared are ways to show those attending the meeting that you value their time. If you are attending, not leading, the meeting you should arrive having already reviewed the agenda and ready to participate and ask questions.
- Phone checking: How many times have you seen coworkers check texts, emails or social media during meetings? How many times have you been guilty of this meeting etiquette offense yourself? Sure, you may think that you are being sly by texting under the table; however, it does cause a distraction and it will not go unnoticed when your attention is on your phone instead of participating in the meeting. You may even justify your phone usage during meetings by expressing your ability to multitask; again, this excuse does not hold water as studies have repeatedly shown that multitasking is detrimental to productivity and should be avoided when possible. Instead of giving those around you the impression that whatever is going on on your phone is more important than the meeting taking place, simply leave your phone in your desk before the meeting.
- Wandering attention: Ok, you were on time, prepared, and even left your phone at your desk; unfortunately, if you aren’t mentally present for the meeting, your efforts are for naught. Letting your mind wander to personal issues or dinner plans is not an effective use of your time. Make a conscious effort to show your coworkers that you are interested and engaged in the meeting. It may be helpful to be aware of the meeting’s objective so that you have something to focus on when your mind starts to wander.
- Lack of participation: If you are invited to a meeting, it is an expectation that you participate by providing feedback and actively listening. Participation is an integral part of teambuilding and is the reason why a meeting is called rather than sending a memo or newsletter. While discussing your own ideas is important, it is equally important to follow meeting etiquette and listen. Don’t interrupt during the meeting the instant you have an idea that you want to share; instead, wait for an appropriate time to interject to avoid losing the respect of your coworkers.
By following proper meeting etiquette, it is possible to start viewing meetings as a productive use of company time and a positive way to interact with your team. Make sure that you show your coworkers that you respect their time and efforts by following these five etiquette rules.