Navigating Cubeland: Meetings as Career Development

To even seasoned veterans, meetings are perceived as simply hours of endless back and forth nonsense, and a waste of critical time.

To many, however, they offer the chance to collaborate, mold strategic plans, and dictate company tasks and direction. Meetings can even be game changers for employers and employees alike, giving participants the chance to establish themselves as thought leaders within an organization.

They can also derail your career development. Real-life examples include:

1.     Pausing said meeting to ask why a colleague has not responded to your Facebook friend request.

2.     Checking your blackberry or iPhone regularly during a meeting, basically announcing to meeting attendees, “I don’t care what you have to say!”

3.     Stating that a colleague’s idea is “stupid” (probably not the best way to voice dissention)

4.     Relying on the cover of the conference room table and removing your shoes (everyone CAN smell your feet)

Two ways to make sure you derive value from meetings are to:

  • Prepare well ahead of time, including understanding the goals of the meeting
  • Weigh your output (what you say or do) carefully while participating in the meeting

Prior to the meeting, begin reviewing the topics on the agenda and consider how you will contribute in a valuable way. While you are in the meeting, reflect on your body language, communication style and the information you are about to communicate.

British writer Dorothy Nevill said, “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

Meetings present so many of these tempting moments, and it’s hard to gain clarity when you are in the midst of forming your thoughts. However, communication continues to be one of the most defining elements of working in an office. The words you choose, the timing of sharing your ideas, and even your non-verbal communication characterizes you to your professional peers, above all of your other work and contributions.

Connecting with your colleagues during a meeting often means toeing the line between co-worker and friend. Focus on presenting your point in a manner that develops your professional relationships, and adds value to the information being shared. You, and your listening colleagues, will have derived a lot more worth from the meeting.

About the Author: Melanie Axman began providing career guidance several years ago when she accidentally inherited 13 disgruntled interns who all needed help telling the story of their accomplishments.  Since that time, she has worked with numerous clients and celebrated their resounding success. Contact Melanie on TwitterFacebook and check out her blog.

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