How To Survive Work Meetings

How many of ‘those’ meetings have you had to sit through?

I just had to sit through a meeting that was so boring that I’ve tainted my future generations. They will feel this boredom until the end of all days.

First of all, the best advice I can give you about surviving work meetings: don’t go. 

Seriously, just don’t go. There are people in meetings.

If you must go, like I just had to, then here are some ways to minimize the pain. And by minimize the pain, I mean you are going to feel pain no matter what advice I give you.

  • First of all, if you are in a meeting and hear the words ‘deferral’ and ‘compensation’ fall out of someone’s face hole, then everything else they say will make you want to sleep or set them on fire.
  • Do not set them on fire. No matter the temptation. No good can come of setting your coworkers on fire. Especially, if the room is already so warm that the thought of suffering through a hot flash sounds like relief.
  • Speaking of meeting rooms…chances are, you are going to find yourself in a room full of unlikeable people and with the temperature set to ‘sixth level of hell’. It’s also possible that someone will lean back, lock their hands behind their head, and force everyone else in the room to gaze upon their sweaty arm pits. My suggestion to you is to freeze your face into an expression of indifference. You might feel inclined to look at them with horror and feel compelled to tell them to put their arms down. Don’t do it. That is considered rude. Apparently.
  • Distract yourself by jotting down ideas for a blog post about surviving meetings. It might be a good idea to invest some time in learning the dying art of shorthand. That way nosy people sitting next to you won’t know you’re jotting down blog post ideas.
  • For all that is holy, if you find that people are making assumptions based on superficial facts, don’t fucking point that shit out. If you do, you might find that your ability to look at a situation logically will only create more work for you. This is time that you could have been using to write a blog post on how to survive work meetings.
  • If your only two choices are to fall asleep or to scoff at everything the other people are saying, I suggest you take a nap.
  • Practice napping without snoring or drooling before any scheduled meetings.
  • Practice deep breathing as an alternative to throwing yourself on the ground and yelling “I’m so fucking bored”. 
  • Don’t keep waving your hands around in the ‘hurry the fuck up’ gesture. This gets on people’s nerves.
  • Try not to say all the thoughts that pop into your head. Especially, if people at work already think you’re weird. Oh, and doubly so if one of the people in the meeting is the CFO who the only other time you spoke to him, you ran into a wall and scraped the skin off your elbow.
  • Resist the urge to slap the shit out of the person who always opens their mouth when someone asks “So, before we adjourn, are there any other questions”?

This is how the meeting I was in just ended:

HR VP: Michelle, we’re going to have to discuss this issues you brought up in another meeting. Would you like to attend?

Me: I don’t want to attend another meeting as long as I live.

All the other people in the meeting: *laughter*

Me: I’m not kidding.

All the other people in the meeting: *more laughter*

Y’all, no one ever takes me serious. I wasn’t kidding.

I’m sure the meeting invite will pop up in my email any second now.

 

 

 

 

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73 comments

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  • One of the great joys of working from home is that almost all of my meetings are phone conferences. This means that I can do laundry, sweep, text my daughter, or write a blog post as I “meet”. I just have to go off mute every few minutes and throw in some random insightful comment. The distraction also keeps me from making stupid mistakes like being logical and getting myself invited to another meeting.

    • I’m still kicking myself for that one. Although, if I didn’t bring it up, sooner or later, they would have realized their error and it would have meant making it work write AND cleaning up data. Might as well bite the bullet and get it over with.

  • also a work out of home person thankfully!
    but i remember the days of mind numbing boring meetings and sweaty armpit guy. i never looked away and always made a face hoping sweaty piglet would put down arms so i wouldn’t have to see or smell him.
    that asshole that pipes up at the end of the meeting and there is ALWAYS an asshole that does. WORST!!!!!

  • I’m ditching a meeting right now! hahahaha I will walk into my department at my scheduled time and totally pretend that I forgot about it. Or tell them I had to take my daughter to work. I haven’t decided which excuse to use yet. For the last two years we’ve been discussing the same things every month and none of it get solved. And usually none of it had to do with me so I keep finding creative ways to not be there.

  • In my “office” (and by office I mean “my house” since I work from home), people realized that it’s pretty much folly to ask me to attend meetings. I’m the one who blurts out what everyone else is thinking…which you would think would be a great skill, but in fact turns out to be kind of frowned upon.

    These days, most of our meetings take place via Skype, so I handle them by turning off my webcam and hauling out my latest knitting project. I’ve pretty much mastered the art of knitting silently. As long as I say “Uh-huh” from time to time, no one seems to notice. And in the end, I wind up with a nice pair of socks or gloves. It’s a win-win, as they say in meeting-land.

    • I would think it’s a good idea to say what everyone is thinking as well! But noooooo…apparently we are only supposed to say what people want to hear which leads to shit not getting done and mistakes and messes and then there are more meetings. It’s a vicious cycle.

  • I just left a meeting. I always think of Battle Royale in these cases; I have a pen, how can I go against the person with the laptop? Can I survive and get the heck out?

    Sadly, deferral and compensation are very common in our meetings. That’s why I am always so freaking sad.

  • Having been a stay-at-home mom, and not been in the workforce since 1989, I would say this applies to any and every school committee or PTA meeting one will ever attend – except perhaps for the sweaty armpits.

  • I usually take my daytimer because fiddling on an iPad is frowned upon but if I am actually writing something everyone thinks I am diligently taking notes. And in that daytimer I am writing ideas for blog entries, updating birthdays, grocery lists etc.
    Meetings are awful and I am sure it is written all over my face that I detest those times confined with everyone I don’t really like.

  • Hahahahaha!! I’m SOOO printing this out and sticking it in my procedure manual for when I (hopefully) leave (to another department – soon! I bid out last week). Not joking about the procedure manual… 🙂

    Just think – ALL the meetings I have to go to involve the CFO since I work in the Accounting Office. AND, I have to take MINUTES! So it’s like, MANDATORY for me to pay attention. Actually, one thing I could add to your list of strategies is that if you are the one taking minutes, it usually works to just reword the agenda with things you thought you heard between cat-naps.

    • Yay! I’ll be part of a procedure!!

      And damn..I hope you win your bid. What a nightmare. If I had to take minutes, it would be just a lot of doodles and probably strings of curse words.

  • You are too funny. There were a few times I was cracking up. Sometimes I can’t help but wave around hurry the fuck up hands. My kids don’t like it either. Come to think of it, your meetings sound a lot like the conversations I sometimes have with my kids.

  • I am forced to attend many, many meetings. Sadly, I am the one who is forced to set up those many, many meetings. I take my laptop and make sure to sit at the corner of the table so I can turn it slightly out of the line of sight of whoever may be next to me, and screw around on the internet. About the only things I have to do in these meetings are introduce the topic, and at the end say, “OK, sounds like we have a plan. Anyone have anything else they want to bring up?” (I refuse to use the word “adjourn.” This isn’t the fucking Supreme Court, for god’s sake–it’s a business meeting.)

    For another way to pass the time that puts those rude people with the sweaty armpits to actual use, a friend at an old job and I used to keep track of how many times we were “pitted” in a meeting (that is, addressed by a guy who had his hands locked behind his head, and was speaking directly to one of us). At the end of the day, the one with the fewest (or perhaps the most–I forget now) “pittings” won. Or lost. Or something. Anyway, it passed the time.

  • I was bad in an office. I finished people’s thoughts to get out of the meeting. I would drop the F bomb until the whole room was uncomfortable and wanted to leave and not invite me again (feel free to use that one). I even had to see HR about my language. HA!
    Funny that my most recent post was why I like working from home and I didn’t mention why I didn’t like an office. It’s like we are wearing BFF cut heart necklaces or something?! You complete me.
    wipe tear…

    • Hahaha…we need that necklace, right?

      I’m already known for foul language. I’ve never been disciplined for it though. Although I had a boss tell me to watch my language, but that rule was for ME and not the guys in the group. FUCK THAT. He backed off of that rule

  • A tremendous meeting-shortener are audible farts.

    You may laugh at me now, but just think: The room is approaching the Ninth Circle of Hell, and some of the men are wearing 100 percent polyester business suits with, repeat with sweat stains under the arms and there’s nowhere to go.

    You, who are in the Secret Underground, must pre-designate the farter. It can be someone who has a history of farting in elevators or in vehicles going places for other meetings, etc. This person has the choice of Audible (laughter), or Inaudible (no laughter).

    Meetings known about ahead-of-time may be prepared for with dietary assistance like Brussels Sprouts or Black Bean chili. This will enhance the sound and smell.

    However, if the Meeting Coordinator is named something like “Ilse Koch,” or “Mrs. Doktor Mengele,” they will just make the meeting that much more prolonged.

    Why not take a Song Break, just when things are getting to the point where people are considering shitting their pants? Stand up and belt out a few stanzas of “There Will Always Be An England,” or “The Doe Re Mi Song.” At church, our minister has everyone stand up and walk around in big circles and shake everyone else’s hand. “Spread The Germs, er, Love.”

    It’s just a thought. I turn off my hearing aid mic and run Ipod Tunage
    and mentally kick back, trying to rustle up a flashback.

  • Um, did you take this out of my brain? Because this was my entire morning, so far! Our A/C doesn’t work properly, the people are unlikable and want to talk about the dumbest stuff, and I do my very best to wear an impassive face when I really just want to torch the place.

    “Nice” to know someone else is suffering too!

  • And there is my big laugh for the morning. Your coworkers fail to see the gem they have amongst them. I am impressed with your self control in these settings. Although I would love to read about you passing out a few well deserved bitch slaps.

    • Hahah..yeah, I am under-appreciated here. Thank god for Priscilla, Queen of the cubicle. She makes me laugh all day long.

      I am actually mostly quiet at work. I interact with the other humans as little as possible.

  • That is considered rude. Apparently.

    Well, hell. I’ve been doing it wrong. 😀

    I used to have to attend daily meetings where absolutely nothing got done. I mean, we’d have a meeting about the lack of progress since yesterday’s meeting. *insert Eye Roll of DOOM here*

    And Don’t keep waving your hands around in the ‘hurry the fuck up’ gesture. This gets on people’s nerves is good advice. I would add that jiggling your foot and looking pointedly at the clock is alsoalso not (apparently) kosher with the higher ups.

  • You poor thing! There are meetings, and then there are HR meetings—a special level of hell so horrific that Dante couldn’t even bring himself to mention it. As someone who spent decades in HR, I can tell you that part of the secret coven training is how to produce meetings so staggeringly boring and content free that those attending start consider the positive aspects of selling their souls just to escape.

  • According to the Lowering the Bar legal humor blog, it’s a bad idea to set someone’s armpit hair on fire with a cigaret lighter… oh wait, that’s only if they are driving a car. Never mind, carry on.

  • I know exactly what you mean. We have a monthly board meeting between the two directors, an outside consultant, the GM and myself – and the number of months that I wish I could just poke my eye out so I could get out of the meeting is unbelievable !!!! The same issues get discussed, the same people bring up the same points, everyone either agrees or disagrees and the discussion is tabled for the next meeting – NO DECISIONS ARE EVER MADE !!!1 It drives me nuts !!!
    I hope you have the BEST weekend and take care of yourself !!
    Me xox

    • oh god…yes..that is so much our company…long loooooooooong boring meetings where NO DECISIONS ARE MADE. holy hell….

      You have a good weekend as well, sugar pop!

  • We always have that one person in the meeting that loves to talk and doesn’t know how to stop. One day when he couldn’t stop and in front of everyone, I asked him for as much as he talked if he talks in his sleep too and how his wife deals with it? The looks I got from everyone cracked me up, either they were in shock that anyone would say something to him or they were trying hard to stifle their laugh. I just shrugged my shoulders and waited for him to respond. Now when I give him a glare in a meeting when he’s on a roll, he gets a bit scared and stops talking. I don’t know how to bite my tongue and I don’t have the capacity to stop what’s in my head from leaving my mouth.

  • Not being a yes person is always a distinct disadvantage when you work in an office, that’s why I’m seemingly unemployable these days I guess
    🙂
    I’ve never been to a meeting that needed to happen. Every single one was a giant waste of time, achieved absolutely nothing and seemed to be nothing more than an opportunity for some nerfherder who liked the sound of their own voice to drone on for hours on end, or in the worst cases force us to look at slides of truly dull and pointless pictures/charts or illustrations about things that bore no relevance to anyone there.
    Ha, can you tell I’m in a grumpy mood today?

    • HAHAHAAH…nerfherder. I adore you.

      And yes, it is RARE that anything productive comes out of a meeting. And soooo many people love the sound of their own voices..and they’re mostly boring and dumb.I’m grumpy too! We’re like twins.

  • I feel your pain. I am not a fan of work meetings at all!
    The last one I went to, (I work with elderly patients) I kid you not they made us watch a movie about bed bugs, had people that get rid of bed bugs speak and then there was a bed bug sniffing dog demonstration (okay that part was kind of cool and creepy at the same time)
    I was SO grossed out I haven’t stopped sanitizing and cleaning since. Gross!

    • It made me itchy just reading this. My poor sister and nephew got eaten up by bedbugs at a resort in Orlando. They were covered in bites. She is very skittish about staying in hotels now.

  • I have yet to figure this out, “My suggestion to you is to freeze your face into an expression of indifference” and it has caused me so much pain. MUST FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THIS. ASAP.

  • I used to have a sign in my cubicle. “Meetings: Some of us are not as dumb as all of us.” It was made to look like one of those motivational posters. My boss LOVED pointless meetings and never caught on to the sign.

    Now I work from home. Meetings are just as boring but no one can see me making oragami to entertain myself.

    • I mostly just don’t show up and then claim I didn’t have a reminder or whatever, but I HAD to go to this one and it’s actually good I did because I found out they hadn’t given me all the info I needed for the project I’ve been working on for TWO MONTHS. It’s due next week and I just found out I had half the information. Not that I’m bitter.

      Honestly, I won’t have any trouble getting the project finished, it’s just really annoying when this happens. Every fucking time.

  • You’ve hit a nerve with this post. And you mention my last favorite person. Just as you think the horrific meeting will end, some brown noser has to ask a question.

  • Great post – I hate meetings as much as you do apparently. I have another ‘party game’ that I created that works every time to keep me awake when the meeting room hits 100 degrees and we’re only at slide 17 of 56 in an awful presentation. I wrote a blog about it a while ago, would love for you to check it out 🙂 http://wp.me/p2YMFv-6W

  • 90% of my working life is in meetings. Usually I’m the asshole leading them. So I try to make sure there is a point to the meeting and that I don’t add people who I don’t need.

    But…I’ve been stuck in meetings where I realise there is no reason I’m there. I know of some heroes actually say “you know, based on this agenda, I don’t think I’m needed here”…and people are usually so stunned they leave. Perhaps I will do that the next time 🙂

  • “resist the urge set my co-worker on fire.” Check. The good news is: I work from home and my co-worker is my husband, so this is good for my marriage and my insurance rates as well as for my job.

    So thanks!

  • Oh sure, I was reading along just fine until the end when I realized everybody at my office wants to slap the shit out of me! Yes, I can be one of THOSE (the “questions at the end of the meeting” asshole)! Thanks for the post! I do believe I have seen the light. And I’m sure my coworkers thank you also. 🙂

  • I’m hehhhhhhhererere! I know, I’ve missed a million of your posts (and everyone else’s) but I love you, and your undying support, and the way you always make me laugh. (shhhh. you’re the first blog I came to when I had a few minutes of blog time:)

    Hilarious post! Also sounds like some school meetings I’ve attended, and a few family functions.

  • As someone who practices the same technique, making something funny that actually annoys the shit out of you is a skill that takes practice . . . and you do it well!

    Also, way to sum up this entire post in under 140 characters yesterday on Twitter. You need to put that on a mug and sell it. I’d buy.

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