Do you hate meetings? I sure do. Surprising because I sit through so many of them, but I find that most meetings are a complete waste of time. And while all meetings are different, what I’ve found is that they’re all populated by the same characters.
After hours of observation and careful documentation, I thought I’d list them for you. I’ll bet you’ve seen some of them as well.
The Explaining Tardy. Everybody’s late sometime. But the Explaining Tardy is special because they not only show up at least fifteen minutes after the meeting’s been called to order but they also have a pathological need to let everyone else know why they were late. The cause is usually traffic or parking and the Explaining Tardy never realizes the irony that everyone else in the room dealt with those things too but still managed to show up on time.
The Questioning Explaining Tardy. This specialized subspecies of the Explaining Tardy not only disrupts the meeting when they show up late but then ask questions about things that were already discussed, blissfully unaware that the only person in the room who doesn’t know the answers to their questions is them.
The Last Minute Paper Rustler. Most organizations send out agendas and notes before their regular meetings. And some people actually read them before they show up. The Last Minute Paper Rustler not only reads the information in the meeting, but makes a big show of it, flipping through the pages, underlining important phrases, and “harrumphing” loudly at the points they don’t agree with. The most loathsome of this species regularly moistens their fingers on their tongues when they turn a page. Blech.
The Lap-Praying Communicator. This very common species keeps their Blackberry or iPhone – and their gaze – below table level while they check their emails, send text messages, and play Angry Birds or Words With Friends. They occasionally look up at the crowd and feign interest but their minds are always miles away.
The Drowned Rat. This species of meeting-goer is usually as late as the Explaining Tardy, also rushing into meetings long after they’ve started. But instead of explaining why they were late, The Drowned Rat continues their personal grooming and preening after they’re seated. Females of the species, are easily identified by limp wet hair and distinguish themselves by brushing various color on their faces, drawing around their eyes, and smacking their lips together after rubbing them with red, waxy sticks.
The males of the species can be quickly identified by the untied strips of silk dangling around their necks. Sometimes Drowned Rat males will spend their first ten minutes in the meetings knotting and unknotting the colorful rags, often looking to the people around them for validation and advice.
The Co-Conspirators. These meeting-goers always congregate in pairs, usually at the corners of the room. Regardless of the subject of the meeting, Co-Conspirators carry on their own conversation at a audible stage whisper. The most onerous of this species snickers and points at others in the room as they carry on their sidebar conversations.
If you spend time at meetings, I’m sure you’ve been lucky enough to spot all the species. But the world of meetings is wide and varied and there’s lots more wildlife to observe and identify, including The Blowhard, The Leg Shaking Fidgeter, The Somnolent Head Bobber, The Nay Sayer, and The Gum Snapping Harpie. If you’ve spotted other species that I’ve omitted, I hope you’ll post them here for everyone’s enjoyment.