Every Meeting Needs a Hero

That’s brilliant.  Tell me more.  Uh huh….yes,…I see.  Hmmm….interesting.  Well thank you very, very much. It was a pleasure.  Good day.

I have no idea what that guy was talking about.

Ever been there?  Ever left a meeting or finished listening to a speaker and thought to yourself…I’m totally lost.  Or I’m totally not getting what the heck they are talking about up there.  I’ve been there.  Sometimes I think I LIVE there!

My mother used to say “It is the responsibility of the communicatOR, not the communicatEE, to clearly enunciate the idea.”  Mom was right about that, of course.

So one might leave a meeting like that and think what a waste of time it had been.  One might think that the speaker needs to work on his or her communication skills…..per Mom.  But just exactly what is the responsibility of the communicatEE in a scenario like this?

There is another side to the coin that I think is worth exploring.

If you are an attendee of a meeting in which the leader/speaker is not making any sense or not clearly communicating their idea….I say you have a responsibility, an obligation no less, to ask questions.

Seriously, why wouldn’t you?   I’ll tell you why you wouldn’t:

“I’m probably the only one in the meeting not understanding.”

It is more likely that there are several people not understanding what is being discussed and you are doing everyone in the room a favor by asking clarifying questions.  That will sometimes give others unspoken permission to ask questions as well.  You know that expression…”misery loves company”?  Well so does confusion.  Everyone in the meeting will benefit as a result.  A meeting hero is born.

“The communicatOR will be offended or think less of me if I tell them I don’t understand what they are talking about.”

I actually think that a serious leader who is trying to communicate an idea is less concerned about whether his or her audience understands what he or she is saying the first time around….and more concerned with whether or not the audience understands the idea correctly and thoroughly by the end of the meeting.

You are actually doing them a favor….and a leader worth their salt will recognize and acknowledge that fact.  There is nothing worse than spending time and energy trying to communicate an idea that no one absorbs.

“I am not interested or lack curiosity about the topic.”

Not interested?  Leave the meeting.  Don’t waste your time or theirs with meetings for the sake of meetings.  Not curious?  Stop it.  Be curious.  Don’t miss opportunities to learn.

That’s it.  Any dumb questions?

(Nope….no such thing.)


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4 Replies to “Every Meeting Needs a Hero”

  1. Finally a HERO I AM! I am a big question asker. It is amazing how many people will come up afterwards to thank me. We were lucky in our parents, to have been given the confidence to do that, because most people really don’t seem to have it.

  2. Asking the “uncomfortable” but productive question does require a certain degree of confidence, perhaps even courage. That’s why I frame the issue in heroic terms.

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