Friday, 18 March 2011

How to really annoy people in business meetings

For my overseas readers – BBC question time is a prime time weekly debate discussing key political and social issues. The panel is normally made up of politicians and celebrities but usually deteriorates into political point scoring. Watching the programme last night and feeling myself get more and more agitated, I was reassured to note that many tweeps (is that the right word?) felt the same.

The panellists were displaying just about every ‘Don’t’ on how to behave at meetings. So I thought this aide memoire on how to annoy people in meetings may serve as a useful reference.

If you want to annoy people at meetings you should:

Dress inappropriately: Call me old fashioned but there is a saying ‘good clothes open doors’ so one can assume that bad clothes can close them! For women, if your décolleté is too low you will alienate other. less well endowed women and distract the poor hapless males. Either way – you won’t be taken seriously (well not for business anyway). The same goes for men – ridiculous ties, ‘loud’ suits or ill fitting outfits are just as bad.

Overdressing - looking as though you are going to a funeral/nightclub/birthday party can be as bad as under dressing (flip flops and shorts may be suitable for a brainstorming on dress down Friday but not so good for Wall Street)

Have bad personal hygiene:  If you notice you are sitting alone surrounded by empty space as others huddle together elsewhere there may be a problem..

Dominate the discussion or debate and interrupt people: Maddening! And people will eventually mentally phase out as your diatribe becomes white noise.

Be sycophantic: Publically sucking up to the boss, guest, object of your desire is nauseating

Miss the point: Politicians please note - answer the question! So often people will attend meetings with a very clear idea of the message they want to get across, disregarding the main point of the meeting and trying to steer the agenda their way. Very very annoying.

Don’t listen or concentrate: Gazing out of the window, at the décolleté (even if it’s your own), at your mobile phone, or any other distraction is not good.

Use jargon: A very good way to alienate the group. My absolute favourite is ‘with the greatest of respect’ – actually means – ‘I think you are a complete idiot but am too afraid to say so’. ‘Thinking outside the box’ was recently voted as the most annoying business jargon in the UK

Behave badly: Sideline conversations, giggling, releasing wind and a whole host of other unsociable activities are guaranteed to annoy. It’s not big and it’s not clever!

Use bad non-verbal behaviour: Watching MPs in the House of Commons is a marvellous example of how not to behave. As one of my fellow tweeps noted,  Andrew Lansley’s facial expressions during the health debate were pure pantomime. (Oh yes it was!)

Flirt: Only fun if you are the flirter or the flirtee.

And finally…

Be mean: being nasty is a very good way to annoy people in a meeting, but be warned, in the long run it doesn’t pay. At least that’s what my mother taught me…


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