Thursday, October 02, 2008

I loathe meetings

You just can't escape them in this world whatever profession you are in. It somehow creeps in and seems to gobble up most of your precious time and leaves you deflated and useless at the end of a long one. On my average day at work I spend around 3-4 hours in meetings.

Meetings are alright, really, they are alright if run properly. By properly I mean, people come on time, only required people attend it, there's someone managing it, there's a set agenda and it's followed, and you reach at some logical next steps by the end of it. I can live with all that. But what I simply cannot tolerate is the small talk that precedes these meetings. Especially here in the UK, it's as if the small-talk is a mandatory Step No. 1 in the agenda. You just can't do without it. And it irkes me cause I never seem have much to contribute to it!

It is a Monday afternoon. I have scheduled a meeting with three other colleagues to discuss some issues. Two of them arrive five minutes early and we all proceed to wait for the third person. And it starts.....
Colleague 1: Nice day, innit?
Colleague 2: Yeah, sunny and bright. Loved the walk after lunch today.
Me: ( notices the weather for the first time in the day and nods along)
Colleague 1: I hope the weather stays put for the weekend. I have a trek planned with some buddies.
Colleague 2: Oh really? I just got back from a trek in the Alps this weekend with my girlfriend. And I proposed at the peak.
Me: Wow, that would have been something. Congratulations.
Colleague 1: Congrats mate. So when's the big day? I hope it's not next Summer. I'm off to Athens on a 20 day tour.
Colleague 2: I am off to Athens this weekend, I'll let you know how it was.
Colleague 1: Thanks! So Priya what you upto this weekend?
Me: much. I guess I'll do some washing and general cleaning up and maybe curl around with a book.
Colleague 1: Oh ok. Sounds like fun. Have a good one.
Colleague 2: Yeah, I never get time to do my washing!
Me: (If you stay at home some weekends, you might!)
And so it goes on......
Another day. And it's a Friday! And it's a weekly team meeting. Everyone arrives early for the meeting. But you just can't start talking business. You need some warm-up. And we dive right into it.
Bob : So weekend's here eh? What you upto Rob?
Rob : Well, nothing much. I am taking the kids camping on the shores of river Ness. They want to stay up and watch out for the Lochness monster.
Bob: Oh that's sweet. Do take your barbecue kit with you. Nothing like it. We did that last summer.
Rob: Thanks mate, will do. Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?
Bob: Just going cycling. In Wales. Hoping to conquer around 50 miles of a hilly rugged cycling route there. What about you Susie?
Susie: Oh I am going sailing! I have been taking lessons all year now and I just can't wait to try it on my own.
Rob, Bob: Crikey! That sounds brilliant. Have a good one!
Susie: Priya, what about you?
Me: am off to the library to get some books. And er.....yeah we are driving down to the beach.
Susie: Sounds good.
After the initial experiences at these warm up sessions, now I have learnt my lessons too. First of all, I am trying to be more active and not be a couch potato over the weekend. A slow but sure start.

And secondly and most importantly, I have learnt to cook up creative things to talk about. That makes it much more easier. When I prepare for the meetings, I spend a couple of minutes deciding what I did fun in the last weekend. Especially if the meetings are on Monday or Friday. So I go skiing some weekends, trekking and scuba-diving the other weekends - all in my mind though! But it makes the meetings much more enjoyable now.

Offtopic: Did you know that you lose 82 hours of your life each year if you live in a busy city? All thanks to the dawdlers! If you find yourself without time to exercise or to sleep, blame the dawdlers!


Admiral Fagin said...

Meetings! - The word freaks me out..

I should cope with it too in a bit of time .....

Someone please gimme a job in which none manages nothing ...

Devi said...


I got a good cartoon picture. Highlight the topic of meeting. Then all those conversations look funny.

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

I enjoy th meetings for th tea and snacks tht accompany it. Since i'm a bachelor and th other guys in the meetings are my around my dad's age, none of them asks anything about these things to me:). The only time i'd some discussion was the last time India played a one day and ther was a meeting the very next day and all were discussing the batting skills of yuvraj singh:). I agree that these things always make one frustrated but then this is how world works :)

AK said...

You are gonna miss those moments someday! ;) I think you should go with the kids.. Lochness - that will be cool!! :)

Rinchen said...

Your colleagues do so much in a weekend??? Wow. Lets not even go to what I do... :p

Vishy said...

So did u really hear those responses from ur colleagues or did u make them up? Liked the lochness one...thats some creativity if u hadnt really heard it :)

rakuboy said...

hilarious one... and I too have similar experiences when I go to mumbai for my monthly meetings... the mumbai dudes speak about weekend dinners, trips to juhu-matheran and the like...
"what did u do last weekend Rakesh??" - "well, hmm,,, did my laundry, went to crossword, or was travelling to my next market in naxal infested chattisgarh.."

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Admiral F,
Not to worry - it's actually a godsend if you want to act busy :)

Share the cartoon pls.

Lucky you. In most of my meetings, we need to bring our own snacks.Ah I guess in India compared to the UK, cricket replaces the topic of weather.

Lochness with kids? That's a long way ahead AK!

Yeah, They 'live' in the weekends. Weekdays are just 'waiting areas' in life!
Don't worry I am right there with you when it comes to lazing around in the weekend and feeling blissfull about it on Monday!

Some are made up and some are not. The Lochness one is a figment of my imagination. I guess somewhere deep down I wanted to do it myself, but was too lazy to even explore it. :D

Oooops...I am glad I'm not in your shoes! You are still hopping around all the 'happening' places in India huh?

Anonymous said...

That was funny :). I believe people in the US are the kings and queens of small talk. In one of those boring meetings this lady went on and on about her adorable pet and how he died when she was six years old (this lady is now in her 50s!) and how inconsolable she was yada yada yada..oof!


Ms Cris said...

And you hate that?! The small-talk part before the meetings is my favorite!
Well it could be cause we didnt always talk about weekend plans and even if we did, it was India and people were doing stuff like me - nothing :-D

Girl With Big Eyes said...

That's a potent dose of small talk! They should know when to stop :)

Ms Cris,
So what you did talk about?
Cricket and monsoon?

Devi said...

That’s the best way I can share it. It will take months for me to draw a cartoon because of the engineering precision I had learned. In any other case people will blame me for copying.

In the cartoon we can have a GWBE to say, “Everyone seems to have a good time out. As I didn’t go for any activity this meeting is very boring. Lets dismiss the meeting and hold it on another day.”

Shanks_P said...

Meetings ...I struggle to keep me awake :( and about small talks ...when everyone talks and the round robin reaches me, i will be blank thinking wht to put across .... i have named trips to all the beaches around until now ... Now its fall time ...So starting to take names of state gardens ....
gud thing is u get ideas for trips overweekend from small talks, if awake :)

Ajith said...

Brits always start with small talk, 955 will start off with weather!!!

Jenny said...

aint i glad Im nt the only one who's weekend sound boring! u think its bad in uk..the us folks we have meetings with have their own internal joke going on every week..- they just keep flirting with each other, when u feel like screamin '"grow up"ppl!

Girl With Big Eyes said...

I wish I could do that and avoid all meetings - I'd be such a happier person!

True, you do get a lot of ideas. Only if you are awake or are not day dreaming like I tend to do in boring meetings.

True - and it is something to talk about too. Cause the weather decided so much of your day - what you wear, how much to layer on and whether to stay out in the evening or not. When your daily life depends so much on it, you just can't ignore it, can you?

Flirting! That sounds more fun. But too much would be a bore I guess.

Ms Cris said...

Its small talk, could be anything. When your colleagues are your friends, you just dont notice. You feel the same inside and outside a meeting room. I am not saying this is the right way to look at things, just remembered those times. It was nice. Mm before the meetings. :-)

Hari said...

Weather... Reminds me of Steve Martin in The Pink Panther!
"It is a lovely wea'zer we are 'aving. If ze' wea'zer stays 'zis mild, we are bound to have a love-a-ly Summer. [Attacks the curtains as if someone is hiding there, the curtains fall] Ze' area is secure."

I haven't sat through much meetings. But most meetings I've been through go straight into the topic without much small-talk whatsoever.

Meetings in UK must be fun! :P Hopefully, I'll be attending one there some six seven years down the line. :P

trupti said...

:)) Here I get so bored that I doodle in my book :D

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Ms Cris,
:) That's right. If they are friends, you'd be glad to do this and maybe even gossip :)

Just wait till you start attending them. You can't escape them kiddo!
I am doing my bit by preparing you for them!

I have seen very senior people do that as well! It's a universal fight against boredom in meetings!

Ravi Kumar said...

hahaha... i loved the post..i cud relate so much.. yes its so true.. but i always love the gossip and hate when the real meeting starts... :)

well i hv come bak from the drop by :)

Anonymous said...

chanced on your blog thru Samrat's

i used to have this same feeling sometime back. But you wont know how much useful this small talk is ...

first, there are some touchy people always around .. who would take offence everytime you think its not worth it ..

second, this is an opportunity for you to direct the conversation where you want it to go ... my experience has been that the conversation can give you good leads, both work and non-work wise ..

third, everytime i did it ... it was much easy for me to approach someone thru the day .. overall i thought it was a healthy practice ...

i am not sure how much it is applicable to you ... i think it is good more often than not ... unless you hopelessly detest the person you are talking to


Girl With Big Eyes said...

Hi Ravi,
Who doesn't love gossip!

Welcome to GWBE's.
I get your points. And it would take some skill to steer the conversation from 'A' to 'Z'. I am yet to master that technique!

Dream'R said...

HAHA!!...DAMN....this happens to me a lot always left wondering "am i living the most mundane existance on this planet??"...atleast u r married and tats a good enuff reasont o be boring..hehe(no offence)..what about poor ol me in the prime of my bachelorhood..!!...(a lil too dramatic eh!!)