Keeping The Energy High in Meetings

Last month, we’ve talked about meeting scheduling: how long should a meeting aim to be, or how can you go about proactively fitting the meeting into your schedule like Warren Buffett. Read the 4 tips here if you missed them.

Now, meeting is scheduled. We need to keep them going with high energy.

Everyone should be in a good mood to produce engaging discussions and make the meeting count.

To achieve that, here are some tips, from the easiest, seemingly obvious one: drinking enough water, to doing improvisational exercises – requiring a bit of planning but the result is exceptional.

Keep Things Positive in Meetings

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Always answer “Yes, and … ” and never “No, but…” – A simple but great trick to keep things positive in meetings . Tweet this

– according to Catalyst, a group of young Christian leaders.

Starting with “No, but/however” is a habit most often seen in people who like to win in conversations, and it’s the worst way to keep discussions open and welcoming.

It doesn’t matter how friendly you sound, other people will feel defensive, as you’re basically saying “You are wrong and I am right”. This kills the flow of ideas and positivity in meetings.

Watch yourself when you use this phrase, practice substituting it with “Yes, and … ” and notice the effects.

Thanks to
@SeanBlanda from 99u
and @CoachGoldSmith: article

image credit

 

Stay Hydrated During Long Meetings

cristal-clear
Drink more water during long meetings to stay concentrated and keep a good mood. Tweet this

Study tells us that we need to stay hydrated at all times, not just while doing exercise or under extreme heat.

Even mild dehydration is shown to negatively influenced energy level, mood and ability to think clearly.

During long meetings, a higher level of concentration and objectivity are required.

The discussions might easily slip into heated arguments or disharmony just because attendees are affected by the lack of H2O goodness.

Make sure to drink enough water to be mentally and physically fit.

Carry your water to the meeting if it is not provided to everyone.

image credit

 

Do Improv Exercises

improv-company

Consider improv exercises to reinvigorate long meetings and rekindle collaboration. Tweet this

Improv is not just for comedians – improvisational exercises have become popular in all kinds of organisation as an excellent tool for team building, meeting icebreaker or conference room de-stressor.

Here are a few games you can try today:

1. Catch: Toss an invisible ball around the room and everyone catches and passes it around. Add more balls if you’d like. Substitute balls for invisible babies, baguette, etc

2. Yes/No Contrapuntal: Two people take turns arguing different sides of a particular point, then switch sides to argue the opposite.

3. Conducted Story: Cooperate in order to narrate a made-up story together.

Suggest a title and everyone starts, one at a time, to contribute a sentence to the story, picking up the story from the same point of the previous person. End when the story reaches a natural conclusion.

Sources, and more:
Inc, Qualitylogoproducts

Why should we work together?

How is your company applying collaboration, or teamwork, or collective creative process to the daily operation?

We normally have meetings for this: brainstorming, co-working, all sort of ad hoc or weekly, monthly, yearly etc. It’s permeate from board-level decision making close-door meeting to the open-space employee office, where they do their day-to-day, regardless of whatever job they have.

Collaboration can be both a cure and a curse to obtaining organizational effectiveness, specifically solving demanding problems.

As research showed, working together can be good for finding out unique information, for example: everybody tries and think of  ways to generate revenues for the newly introduced product. You’ll get a bunch of different ideas from individuals, or “the clustered network”, as they would not try to copy each other, as the goal is to come up with various ways.

However, when it comes to the part of interpreting the conclusions from information, interesting things happen: social proof. If someone comes up with the solution, and more people agree to it, I might as well adopt that – everyone think it’s true, it must be true.

From brainstorming to decision making, collaboration helps along the way, but not all the time.

Normally, the way we come to make a decision requires a bit of time, reflection, evaluation of different criteria and scenarios; gathering evidence, data we don’t currently have at hands – and obviously this process needs full attention and focus in order to be effective. Shortcut like social proof, pressures, or just in the context of meetings just won’t make the cut.

In fact, in the working world right now, with all the technology and constant connectivity, we are only able to focus for 3 minutes at a time. And I don’t think this is enough to produce anything meaningful (probably just enough to scan and tweet out an article)

Meetings are good for finding out unique information and finalizing  or making decisions after all the works are done. Lots of issues require more than one individual capability to be solved.

We should work together of course. But just like one doesn’t wear heels to run long distance, collaborate selectively. (Tweet this)

 

One avoided meeting is one successful meeting

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“The best fights are the ones we avoid.” – Mr. Han, The Karate Kid

How does this apply to meetings?

Of course not all meetings are a waste of time. But half of them are.

Like if you’re going to a fight, and know that there’s a 50% chance that someone, if not everyone, would get hurt pretty badly, would you wonder: what if there’s a better way to settle this dispute in a more peacefully and everyone can avoid getting injured.

My martial art teacher always reminds us: when somebody wanted to challenge you for a fight, or villainously approached you on the street – it doesn’t matter whether you can win the fight or not, you would say to them: “Stop, I don’t want this, go away”.

Ok, maybe it’s not that serious as getting injured, but the wasted costs of meetings in companies are quite significant, 37 billions in salary for US businesses. To understand in figure a bit more in a comparative way, check this out: 11 things the costs of wasted meetings could pay for.

In the workplace, wasted meetings bring about not only loss of money but also hours of possible productive time as people could have worked deeply on their own.

In a great TED talk , Jason Fried from Basecamp said that employees don’t like M&M (Managers and Meetings) because their work time is frequently being interrupted, and that’s why work doesn’t happen at work – they need a more suitable environment to create and produce.

Substitute meetings with collaboration apps or emails so employees get their quality time to be truly creative. Tweet this

At Amazemeet, all participants are expected to set Purposes and Agenda prior to the meeting, others can vote if this meeting is worth happening, or everything can be sorted out beforehand.

Give people their time to thrive, and stop having bad meetings. Tweet this

image credit: karate kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

When to Listen to Your Gut and When to Tell It to Shut Up

Many a business has been conceived, born, and grown on a hunch. Consider the typical story of the young rebellious founder who invested all of their time and effort into a risky idea and won out big. Or the precarious businessman who has somehow developed an intuition for the “ways of the business”. Or even the person who dreams of something and it happens.

Most of it is just residual from the time we needed instinct and intuition to navigate the dangerous lands and avoid animals that could kill us. But ever since we became intelligent and reasonable beings, the need for this “sixth sense” has been less pronounced. Nevertheless, it has stuck with us. Just look at the successful people who swear by it. Steve Jobs called intuition “more powerful than intellect”. Another intellectual who valued it was Einstein:

There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.

So there is something there, something that invites a deeper look. In my own personal experience — which is not that much — I have found that not everything I consider a hunch is one. On the other hand, almost every time I’ve had a hunch and not acted on it, I’ve lost ground.

So should you listen to your gut? The answer: it depends. So what I’ll do is list five instances and go with either yes or no or both.

Ready? Go.

When It’s a Big Deal – Yes

So you have to buy a house. Or a car. Or there’s a big merger on the horizon. In other words you have to make a big choice, so you start weighing all the pros and cons. You ask your partner, your friends, your boss. And the more you think about it, the hardest the choice becomes. Stop.

What you have to do in this instance is trust your first instinct.

Science tells us that you’ll be happier if you decide quickly and intuitively. So when a bunch of car-buyers were choosing, the ones who took their time were on average less happy than the ones who chose quickly.

overthinking-gif

It has something to do with over-thinking — the more information piles up, the more confused you get, and your decision-making ability becomes stunted. It’s important to be able to decide quickly and firmly. Otherwise you’ll be like me — spending two hours on a birthday card.

When You Have a “Bad Feeling” – No

So you’re working at home, you’re tired and stressed, and you’re on the brink of a major deal… except suddenly you get the “feeling” that it’s not going to happen. It’s going to slip through your fingers.

Relax. This is a classic case of fear-induced inference. What your brain does is start worrying on a rational level, which then spirals into irrational fast. It’s because of the emotional feedback you’re sending to your brain when you worry continuously. Consider the jealous boyfriend who becomes convinced that his girlfriend is cheating on him, and the more he suspects, the more he thinks he “knows” that it’s happening.

Furthermore, when it comes to emotions (and stress), the brain can get easily confused — we all know it’s true when we’re in love. I mean, of course your brain will get confused — you feel the same in the gut when you feel scared and when you feel excited. Have you thought about that?

So next time you have a “bad feeling”, make sure it’s grounded in logic, not in your gut. The gut can be a deceiving devil.

When Something Could Harm You – Yes

Evolutionary speaking, we’re animals, and animals process cues from their environment to look out for dangerous elements, like bigger animals. When all signs lead to CODE RED, we crank up the biological alarm. Sometimes it’s not as bad as “fight or flight”, but just a tiny alert saying “something’s not right here”. Then you look around and everything seems fine.

My advice? Get to safety fast. Your brain is a complex machine. It’s able to process cues at a very fast speed, which sometimes get stuck in the unconscious part, but manage to manifest into a gut feeling.

One such example is the case of a Formula One driver, who braked just on time to save his life — without any initial warning, just a sense that something was wrong. What happened was that his brain processed the cue — the crowd not cheering — and “sensed” that something must be off.

Indeed, this very ability of ours to sense danger and act on it in a split second is what keeps us alive sometimes. So listen to your gut when it warns you about danger. They say, better safe than sorry, for a good reason.

When You Jump to Conclusions – Both

So you have just met a candidate for a job and something about the way they talk makes you “feel” uncomfortable. It’s a hunch.

If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s incredible book Blink, you’d know that you’re actually amazingly good at thin-slicing — which means judging something without having any information about it. So, for example, you see a person and you can instantly judge what their personality is.

But there’s another side to this — stereotypes. Some preconceived ideas that we hold about certain groups can harm us or those around us. Even though these ideas are not true, we have the feeling that they are. So when you meet someone for the first time, give them a chance to show you what they’re like. Especially if you’re aware of any prejudice that you might have.

Also, Gladwell specifically stresses the danger of thin-slicing when you don’t have enough experience. For example, an experienced trader can immediately predict what’s going to happen before it does, and while some may call this a hunch, it’s just their mind thin-slicing — processing the information they have in a very fast, practiced way.

So the more experience you have, the more you can trust your gut. 🙂

When Someone Might Be Lying – Both

Sometimes you know in your gut something’s wrong with someone, but there’s absolutely no evidence. They act nice, they smile at you, and they’re nice to your friends. But your gut just won’t let go of this feeling.

Then it turns out that person is a psychological liar. Ouch.

It happened to me a few years back. One of my so-called friends was lying about literally everything, but instead of disappointment, I felt relief, because my gut had known it all along.

social_psychopath-vs-sociopath

If your gut tells you there’s something wrong with someone, you should listen. (Especially if this feeling lasts a long time.) Even if you can’t see any evidence to support your case, your brain is picking up cues — body language, visual discrepancies, mistakes — which it then processes and makes its conclusions on a subconscious level.

Research suggests that we’re bad at spotting liars, but we’re better when we take away information. So if you know this person, you’re less likely to figure that they’re lying than if you’ve just seen their photo.

Moral of the story? Whether someone’s really lying to you or not, you should always listen to your gut when it nags you.

In conclusion,

A great rule of thumb: Trust your gut when you have no reason to believe it is deceiving you. And I’ve only shared a few scenarios here, but there are many more out there. What are your experiences of trusting or ignoring your gut?

I’m the founder of Amazemeet and like most people who’ve worked in professional organisations for the last 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of that time in meetings. And they mostly sucked.

I’m on a mission to help people and organisations do meetings better.