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Business meetings: the essential horror of the professional world. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid them because they keep everyone in loop, help you do your job, and benefit the company. They aren’t the time for you to be ambivalent about your job or the company’s goals and progress. So even though you want to zone out during the boring stuff, don’t. You need to know what’s going on if you expect to be a valuable employee and successful person.
If you catch yourself doing any of the following things, stop immediately and start paying attention. Your job kind of depends on it.
1. Be on Your Phone
This is probably one of the most disrespectful things you can do while in a meeting. This says you couldn’t care less about what’s going on in the company. Scrolling through social media, texting, or playing games is not what you should be doing during a meeting. In fact, you shouldn’t take your phone into the meeting at all. Leave it at your desk, and pay attention to what’s being said. Your Instagram notifications will be waiting for you when the meeting is over.
2. Pick at Your Nails
The main issue with this is it’s kind of gross to tend to your personal hygiene during a meeting. Even though it’s practically impossible to ignore a hangnail as soon as you realize it’s there, you must resist the temptation. Your nails aren’t going anywhere. Picking at your nails during a meeting sends the message that you’re uninterested and the company isn’t as important as your vanity. It seems like a casual thing to you, but to others it looks snobby.
3. Peruse Irrelevant Websites
You’re supposed to be paying attention during meetings. You might think you can surf the web and participate in the meeting at the same time, but you really can’t. Multitasking is cool at home, but it’s not something you should be doing while listening to pertinent company discussions. It’s best to just leave your laptop closed during a meeting, but if you need to have it out, then stick to what you’re supposed to be looking at.
4. Do Other Work
No. Nope. No way. You absolutely cannot be in a meeting and work on another task at the same time. The various things you do at work are supposed to be done with 100% of your attention. Trying to do work and be in a meeting doesn’t provide your undivided attention to either one. The urge to multitask is hard to ignore, but it’s best for the quality of your work if you do. Instead, aim to be present in the business meeting so you don’t miss anything important or get lost in the discussion.
5. Zone Out
Zoning out in a meeting is a terrible offense. It’s a total waste of your time and the time of everyone in the meeting. Don’t just sit there staring off into space; actively listen to what is going on and engage with the discussion. By zoning out, you’re telling everyone that you don’t believe the meeting is worth your time or input.
Business meetings are not a time for social interactions of any sort, but they really are not meant to be used for gossip. Don’t take up valuable time gossiping when you should be covering whatever important thing you’ve all gathered for. Gossiping reflects badly on you as an employee and team player. Keep any gossipy thoughts to yourself.
It’s rude to eat during a business meeting. Unless it’s a legitimate lunch meeting where everyone is eating, you need to wait until it’s over. No matter how hungry you are, you need to push through the pain, focus on the meeting, and wait until it’s over before digging into some food. Imagine how distracting it is for the other attendees to hear you chewing while they try to pay attention to what’s being said. Imagine how the main speaker of the meeting feels trying to conduct a meeting over the chomping of your chips.
8. Be Negative
Even if the meeting is focusing on a dire situation or you’re discussing a big problem, don’t add to the negativity by being negative. Take the issue seriously, but instead of lamenting the situation, try to be positive about the company’s or team’s ability to solve the problem. Be the solution, not the problem. Your co-workers will appreciate a positive voice and outlook much more than they will someone repeatedly reminding everyone how bad it is.
It’s okay if you don’t like business meetings; very few people do. But you can’t go into them with an attitude or a nonchalant approach. No matter what, pay attention to the discussion at hand so you can be a better employee and know what’s going on. Forget your personal needs and wants during meetings and keep your sights on the company’s bigger picture so you can have a more lucrative career.