I am afraid that in most meetings, even in high-level meetings, people spend too much time posturing themselves to look cool. It’s different than “looking cool” that we all practiced in high school, but the motivation is the same: we want people to like us and think that we matter.
…you ask complicated questions. You string together some unnecessary sentences to broadcast some newly-acquired knowledge.
…you repeat what the last person said, and then add something new. (Often done with a terrible phrase, “Let me piggyback on what she said…”) 😐
…you agree with everything that the boss says. Or you ask questions that you know that the boss will want to answer. (Andy Bernard on The Office.)
…you talk a lot. You ask questions, add comments, and then ask some more questions.
☝️ Don’t be the guy who asks these questions.☝️
The Hardest Question
If you really want to fix the problem of a broken meeting (or broken company), try this. Ask the hard questions. Here’s my favorite question, one that is deceptively simple:
“Is what we’re doing working?”
If you are a leader at your company, or if you want to be a leader, it’s your job to ask this question all the time. Your job is not to “manage people” or exert power. Your job is to make things work better. Every day, ask this question: is what we are doing working?
- Is this meeting working?
- Is this team working?
- Is this project working? Is it worth our time?
- We continue to work together, but is there a better way to do this?
Sometimes it’s a question you ask out loud, other times you don’t. But if you are the boss, then you should ask yourself this before every day, before every meeting. While looking at the faces of the 10 people you’ve called into the conference room.
Anyway. That’s it. Ask the hard questions. People may not always like you for it, but they will respect you.