Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Colin, Nigel, Sam, Pete and Norman

I attend a lot of meetings. Meetings about meetings. Meetings preparing for the meeting about meetings. I attend business meetings, charity metings, government meetings, school meetings, public meetings, hush hush meetings (which I'd like to tell you about but...). All sorts of meetings.

In these meetings, I see the same Meeting Types over and over again. Here are five of my favourites (names changed to protect the innocent - but you know who you are :). You probably know a few more.

Cynical Colin: cynical Colin hangs back at the start of meetings. He doesn't make eye contact. Chair slightly pushed back, he makes the occasional note on his pad but otherwise projects indifference. In fact he project silence powerfully into the meeting. He doesn't say anything but you know he's there, waiting to pounce. You know he's listening, cynically, sighing inside at the banality of it all, the triviality that he has to put up with around here. Then at some point he makes his move. Leans forwards, seizes the space and delivers a deliberately contrary diatribe before sinking back into his reverie.

Naughty Nigel: naughty Nigel sat in the back of the class at school, sniggered with his mates and flicked paper at girls. 30 years later he's still doing much the same thing. On the surface he participates in the meting, making a few positive, non-controversial, vacuous comments but most of the time he tries to enrol other people in his "back of class" antics. He writes notes on his papers and surreptitiously shows them to the person sitting next to him ("old so and so off on one, eh?"). He makes eye contact across the room, arches his eyebrow and smirks knowingly at you as someone else is speaking. Everyone knows he's doing it but he is a master of the art. He restrains himself just enough to avoid The Boss saying "oh for goodness sake, will you grow up, Nigel, otherwise I'll send you to the Head".

Strident Sam: strident Sam must be heard. Sam is prepped and ready for a fight. Sam has data. Hard facts. Not namby pamby nonsense like the rest of you. Sam doesn't have time for this nonsense. It's all nonsense. Sam goes in angry. Starts angry, continues angry, finishes angry. Collars you on the way out, complaining about the meeting. Bloody waste of time if you ask Sam. Sam is the only person who "cuts through the crap". The only one who really knows what's going on around here. Everyone else is an idiot. Sam knows best and doesn't care who knows it.

Political Pete: Pete is a smooth operator. He navigates his way through meetings with consumate skill and panache. You can't lay a glove on Pete. He makes confident, calm, measured points that sound plausible until you think about them later and realise that they meant nothing at all. On the one hand this, on the other hand that. He is careful not to draw any conclusions before The Boss has indicated which way he is leaning, then Political Pete comes down gently but firmly, on balance, on the side of The Boss.

Name-drop Norman: I love name-drop Norman. He's late for the meeting because he's just been finishing a call with The Minister. He needs to leave early because he has to rush to a meeting with The Director. He would love to come out for a drink this evening but "unfortunately" he has to go to dinner with the Ambassador. He partially agrees with your view, but as The Guru he met at a conference said only last week, you're talking rubbish.

And which type am I? All five of course and probably a few more I haven't thought of yet!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Umh! That is interesting ! drA