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Meeting Poopers – How to Encourage the Right Meeting Manners?

Have you been in a position where you have planned a meeting for the longest time and finally all the key players are there – well, except for the one colleague who is late. Now all you got to do is to work through the agenda, approve a decision and your dream meeting is finished. Everyone rushes off back to work with fresh ideas from the meeting and produces actionable results. Right? Or maybe not. Learn how to encourage the right meeting manners with our insights!

Executives view more than 67% of meetings as failures

Wow, that is a lot! How can you avoid that? And more importantly, what causes so many of us to see meetings as failure?

What is a meeting pooper? This common creature inhabits in almost every workplace. It has a strong personality, often arrives late and is on its phone non-stop. You might think your meeting was well prepared. When the meeting pooper arrives, unfortunately, Murphy’s law kicks into action and everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. Have you accidentally incurred the wrath of “Meeting Poopers”? As strong personalities clash, the result can be a failed meeting. Sometimes you can’t help but wonder to yourself: was there something you could have done to prevent this?

There is always that one group of people who shows up late, comes unprepared and interrupts every important moment in the party. These folks wouldn’t have a clue of what meeting etiquette was even if it landed on their heads. It’s time to gently introduce the right meeting manners and make everyone learn the meeting etiquette!

Step 1. Right Meeting Manner Means: No Mobile Phones

Our first culprit of the day is the mobile addict. By preventing the use of mobile phones, you eliminate people from texting under the table. Showing fellow coworkers photos from a holiday weekend should be taken to the pantry. We advise that you ask or even demand your colleagues to turn their phones off. Even better, not bring them in at all!

As the saying goes ‘out of sight, out of mind’, by removing the object of power, you can be sure that your participants can channel their attention to you. Too much time is already wasted on staring at different screens. If all else fails, suggest that the participant takes the call outside the meeting room to minimize any distractions.

Step 2. Meeting Etiquette Leaves No Space for Dictators

In every meeting, there is bound to be people of different personalities clashing against one another. It is up to you to ensure that the meeting does not turn into one person’s dictatorship. A good meeting etiquette encourages productive discussions. However bad meetings degenerate quickly into arguments.

The key difference between the two is that discussions leave you with creative ideas. On the other hand, arguments involve one or more individuals losing their nerves over a debate. If this is a recurring problem, you should address the situation before it even begins. Try saying: ”I think we understand your position, what do we need to do to make a decision?”. This can often times defuse the situation.

Enhance the fact that your meetings are meant for adults who behave professionally. There is no space for personal attacks or pointless arguments. Instead, a good meeting etiquette with good meeting manners is applied.

Step 3. Good Meeting Manners Mean Everyone Is on Time

If you are chairing the meeting, know when it is appropriate to start the meeting and prevent latecomers from holding it back. There are too many meetings where latecomers create unnecessary backtracking. Latecomer’s presence also disrupts the meeting’s agenda.

One simple solution is to close the door as soon as the meeting starts. This signals to potential latecomers that they aren’t welcome. However, if you are inviting a colleague who is known to be late, explicitly ask them to be on time. State that everyone should arrive a few minutes early in your next meeting invite.

Step 4. Don’t Become a Meeting Pooper – Maintain Your Meeting Etiquette

Folks who are socially inept or those who choose to be rude and insulting on a personal level are simply not welcome to meetings with good meeting etiquette. However, it is up to you to keep a level ahead and ensure that you do not let yourself or others be baited by this kind of behavior. If you find yourself having the need to defuse the situation, tactfully address the behavior of the individual with a well-chosen phrase and offer them a graceful way out. 

It is entirely possible that the individual is genuinely unaware of the effect of their words. They might be a newcomer to the company who hasn’t figured out the company culture yet. However, if the participant is not contributing constructively, kindly ask them to leave and speak to them in private about their behavior after the meeting. Remember, these folks are still human whatever you do, do no reprimand them in the meeting. It could be that they are having a bad day or maybe the Monday blues got to them.

Follow these nifty tips and tricks and you’ll find your next meeting to be more productive and free of the pesky ‘meeting poopers’. Meeting manners and meeting etiquette are essential in working towards shared goals!

Better Meetings Start with Stimulative Spaces