How to survive a business meeting

I probably spend way too much of my time trying to find answers to difficult questions, questions like how gravity works in a vacuum, why people like Celine Dion, and how companies survive without innovating.

Scientists trying to prove the existence of negative energy need look no further than watching the level of effort made by my son as he cleans his room.  Alternatively, they could be a fly on a wall in one of the millions of meetings that take place every day in American businesses in our post-Potter world.  Death by a thousand cuts.

We have all been in those meetings, the ones where you wish they were held outside so you could at least come away from the meeting with a tan.  You are a member of the warm-chair attrition cadre of the value-subtracted reseller for whom you work.  You enter the meeting room, your eyes scan from left to right to find the bagel-therapy and BIY (buy it yourself) cheapuccion—there are none.

You wish silently that this meeting will be the black-swan, a rare and unexpected meeting that proves to be worthy of your time.  The negative energy in the meeting room is palpable.   Most of the time, the only person vested in the outcome of the meeting is the person who called it, the person trying to unload their baggage-malaria.  Everyone else is wondering just how do I occupy an hour of time while still looking attentive?

Aren’t laptops wonderful?  You boot yours, angle the screen so the person next to you cannot see what you are browsing, and all of a sudden your mind is elsewhere—sort of like working from home only without the pajamas—the pajama-hadeen.  If you set it up correctly, the top of the laptop’s screen should be high enough to allow you to make eye contact and wide enough to help you carve out your laptop-zombie space.

If your connection to the internet fails, you become a digital nomad, a WiFi-squatter forced to use your cell phone.  You hope the next hour will not be a repeat of the last pancake meeting—one with a lot of breadth but little depth—but maybe an hour of downtime allowing you to further your hobby.  You are a Palintologist, following her tweets and texting until you are intexticated.

You scan the horsemen of the apocalypse to see if you can determine which are the hot-tubbers, the me-sayers who will co-ruminate, those individuals who want to sit closely to the adorkable meeting savant so as not to miss his wave-a-dead-chicken solution to the problem at hand.

You have employed information triage in the belief that if you pay attention to only the first and last words spoken you will be able to recombobulate ninety percent of the important content.  The meeting-gelincal, with his agenda, laser pointer, and PowerPoint charticles—his meeting-bling—announces the topic.  Translated loosely, it is nothing more than backlog-management, a rehashing the same topic as the last meeting albeit with a different slide deck.  You immediately begin to battle meeting-apnea.

There is a built-in disconfirmation-bias to ensure that the statements from any precariat—someone with little or no job security—attempting to sway belief away from the proletarian confession of faith suffer meet-lashing at the hands of the secret elitists.

The best way to avoid this mess is to skip the next meeting.  When nobody notices, skip another.  Your productivity will increase and your boredom will drop.


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