Let’s face it, when the alarm goes off in the morning, nobody wakes up excited about having to go meetings at the office that day. Meetings with your team and management are a necessary part of everyone’s job. Most of us like meetings to be productive and brief so that we can return to our daily tasks that are demanded of us as quickly as possible.
When that doesn’t happen, we can all get a little frustrated!
Have you ever been in a meeting where one of your co-workers was doing something so annoying that you just couldn’t focus on what’s being said? Their behavior is distracting, rude, unprofessional, and yes, very annoying.
Etiquette seems to have passed these people by. But where are the written rules? Does your office have a set of rules for behavior in meetings, or are there a set of unspoken rules that people are supposed to know due to common sense?
The problem is that common sense often fails us. Maybe if there were increased levels of awareness surrounding these types of behaviors, there would be fewer people doing these annoying things in meetings, and productivity will rise?
I’ve identified the eight most annoying behaviors that are so distracting that they can often ruin the productivity of even the most well-organized meetings. And if you’re doing any of them yourself, you could be doing damage to your reputation.
1) The Snacker
If you’re hungry during a meeting, by all means, take a minute to have a few bites of food to tide you over. Feel free to bring your Starbucks in too. However, I have worked with people that bring food into every meeting.
Is that really necessary? If you do need a snack, consider eating something that can be consumed without making a mess or causing a distraction.
I once worked with a guy that used to eat apples in meetings. The loud crunching noise with every single bite was so obnoxious that it would cause me to lose focus. An apple a day may keep the doctor away. However, bring one into a meeting, and it might cause your co-workers to wish you were at the doctor’s office instead of in a meeting with them.
2) The Texter
Everyone gets messages that they need to respond to right away. However, this should not happen twenty times during a meeting. Keeping your head buried in a phone the entire time is rude. However, the ultimate low, I once looked over at a colleague during a meeting to see them on Facebook on their phone. Really?
3) The Late Arriver
There is no worse way to waste everyone’s time than to show up late. This forces the others to virtually start the meeting over or be twirling their thumbs until you arrive. Nothing screams, “I’m unorganized, can’t manage my time, and inconsiderate to my colleagues,” like showing up late.
Show up late to a meeting holding a Starbucks, and it could get you fired. A co-worker did this once and was fired directly after the meeting. The excuse, “but the line was really long.” It was the straw the broke the camel’s back.
4) The Unprepared
Didn’t prepare for the meeting? Better hope you can fake it! However, rely on faking it too many times, and you will be exposed. Not contributing to meetings will get you fewer invites and a tarnished reputation.
5) The Negative Nancy
Skepticism can be an excellent quality to have, and it can prevent bad ideas from being implemented. However, it seems that certain people within a company come to meetings just to shoot other people’s ideas down. It wasn’t their idea so it couldn’t possibly be a good one.
6) The Interrupter
The interrupter never lets anyone finish a thought without interjecting their opinion. They cut people off mid-sentence and talk out of turn. They feel it necessary to share every opinion whether it is the appropriate time to do so or not.
7) The Slacker
Your body language in a meeting is important. Bad body language gives people the impression that you just don’t care. The slacker is often slumped over in their chair. They don’t make eye contact and look like they are on the verge of falling asleep.
8) The Rambler
This person rambles on in meetings. Their rants lack a point or relevant contribution. They continue to talk in hopes that if they talk long enough, they will eventually form a rational thought.
So, now that we’ve identified these incredibly annoying behaviors during meetings let’s all do our best to try to avoid being “that guy.”
Originally published for my column on Inc.com. Republished with permission.