Corporate professionals have busy days. There is always so much to do, and meetings tend to take up more and more time every day. The longer a meeting runs, the more it eats into a workday, resulting in less time to manage tasks. This is why professionals and executives want meetings to be brief, crisp, and streamlined. Certain annoying behaviors, however, can prove to be counterproductive relative to meeting goals. They can not only disrupt meetings, but they can also impair an organization’s success.
The 7 Most Annoying Behaviors that Disrupt Meetings
Many people have a sense of what constitutes appropriate workplace behavior is. Others, however, might be susceptible to disruptive traits. Of course, some may have no control over it. For example, you cannot call the struggles of an employee with Asperger’s annoying behavior.
However, there may still be certain actions and attitudes that the average person can adjust to ensure that meetings proceed more smoothly. Here is a brief list of some of the most disruptive habits that manifest in a corporate meeting setting:
Not Being Punctual
One of the most annoying behaviors when it comes to meetings is a lack of punctuality. Meetings should always have a defined start and end time. That automatically implies attendees need to show up promptly. Showing up late to a meeting can be disruptive in many ways.
The other attendees may have to wait around for the latecomer before they start, wasting everyone’s time unnecessarily. It can also give the impression that the person coming in late does not value the meeting or its proceedings. This may trigger resentment and hostility, which can further disrupt the course of the meeting.
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Texting or Taking Calls
Also high on the list of annoying behaviors is the unnecessary utilization of phones during a meeting. All attendees should respect everyone taking time out of their day to be present in that meeting. A part of showing that respect is having the courtesy to stay off of phones for the duration of the meeting.
One of the worst things an attendee can do is answer a phone call in the middle of the meeting. Even excusing yourself to get up and make a phone call outside can be disruptive to the meeting. Texting can be just as disruptive – it shows that the attendee is not fully focused on the meeting.
Sending or Reading E-mails
Being responsive via email is usually good employee behavior in almost any work setting. However, a meeting is different. It can be hard to resist checking e-mails every few minutes. However, doing so during a meeting is undesirable behavior. It can be almost as disruptive as making phone calls or texting. In a meeting, all attendees should be focused on the agenda. Only an emergency should be a cause for disruption. In almost any other case, an e-mail can wait.
Neglecting to Take Notes
Note-taking is a crucial part of a productive meeting. As a rule, attendees should bring along pens and notepads to note down crucial information. Even if you have perfect memory, it always helps to note the relevant aspects of any meeting. Not doing so can often give the impression that an attendee does not consider the discussion to be of value.
An HR executive, for example, should be noting changes to the company’s people analytics strategy. Operations managers should note information about new operating procedures or standards. Forgetting something important at a later date can defeat the purpose of the meeting.
Engaging in Conversation
Engaging in side conversation during an ongoing meeting is poor form. As a rule, one person should speak at a time during a meeting. Having discussions with other attendees on the side is both disruptive and disrespectful. Even if you don’t understand a meeting topic, note any questions to pose once the speaker has finished his or her presentation.
A simple question, such as what is centralized recruitment, could be far less disruptive at the end of a meeting than at the beginning or in the midst of a presentation. By paying attention, you may even find the answers to your question during the meeting. Paying attention is far more fruitful than disruption.
When conducting a meeting, speakers should make sure their words are crisp, digestible, and understandable. Long-winded statements, drawn-out stories, and anecdotes may not be very useful in such scenarios. In fact, they could be a sure way to lose the attention of other attendees. It is also an inefficient use of everyone’s time. Respect your own time and that of others, and ensure all presentations and discussions remain focused.
Going Off the Agenda
Every business meeting should have a predefined agenda. The agenda helps keep meeting activity centered on specific goals. If the meeting is about a workplace investigation, the agenda should not include a discussion on a company weekend retreat.
Meetings should stay focused on the task at hand, whether it is discussing performance appraisal methods or a new onboarding process. Off-agenda discussions are not really important to the meeting; otherwise, they should be on the agenda.