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We Make the Rules for Meetings
I was leading a virtual work session for some program participants today, and a participant apologized for eating during the session. I immediately responded by approving of her decision and encouraging her to go ahead and eat.
After all, I had been sitting there quietly picking on the guitar while participants were working on their projects.
The beauty of the changing ways of working and communicating with each other is that we get to change the rules. We were violating some traditional rules of business — you don't eat during meetings (or you excuse yourself if you need to) and you for sure don't play guitar when you're leading a virtual work session — but we're not in business as usual. We're not in any relationship as usual.
It's not like all rules and norms have to go out the window, though, and there are plenty of norms that make sense. But we're all grown-ups here and we can co-create the rules and norms as we go along.
There's no reason you can't:
Do some kettlebell exercises during your next meeting
Meet someone for a hiking meeting rather than for coffee
Have a timer that goes off every 42 minutes to remind everyone to drink or stretch
Schedule a paid team meeting in which you do nothing but share stories, anecdotes, and jokes
Have a few dedicated moments in a meeting when every teammate shares and acknowledges the great things they've seen someone else on the team do
Ask the most junior person on the team to run the meeting
Meetings don't have to be draining, useless, cold, and something to minimize. We make the rules for meetings, so rather than complain about meetings we don't want to attend, we can spend that same amount of effort creating the types of meetings we do want to attend.
Yes, I know it's harder to change this if you work in an organization where someone else makes the rules AND be honest about the degree to which you've tried to alter the flow of meetings. ((If you'd like a great resource for changing the rules of meetings, check out Al Pittampalli's Read This Before Your Next Meeting. It's a great one to strategically slide into your boss's or meeting leader's view.)) If you're a leader or manager and don't like the ways meetings go, then get busy fixing them — it's your job to do so.