Meetings

Meetings are a challenge in very different ways. The meeting or the meetings might take longer than expected and your next meeting might be delayed or you might have to travel for the meeting and the road might be blocked or the train / plane arrives late or even be cancelled.

Travelling

I have the challenge to be at a certain place at a certain time very regularly, because I am travelling through Germany a lot by train and German trains are fare from punctual. Therefore I have the habit of taking an early train, but I have to admit I am not able to do this every time. Having to start a meeting or a project at eight in the morning gives me no chance to take an early train, because the first train of the day I am taking already. In this case as I have to change trains it happens from time to time that I am late. The company knows about the challenge and organise the schedule according to my arrival. In all other occasions I calculate the extra time for an early train, even though I loose some costly time.

It is even worse when trains or planes are cancelled. The cancellation of a flight happened to my once when I was flying to a customer in the south of Germany. I rang the customer and informed him. Of course they were not happy that I arrived in the early afternoon instead of the morning and the consequence was that I was not able to hold my second seminar and had to do one in two languages, German and English. It took a happy ending for the participants.

I am living at one of the busiest motorways of our country and we are counting the most lorry accidents of Germany, because the lorry drivers that come from Russia or Poland are getting tired in this part of the motorway or lorry drivers are phoning, eating, smoking, etc and are not concentrating properly on the motorway anymore. That means the motorway is blocked very regularly. As our village has an exit of the motorway the streets of our village are blocked too. It makes it very difficult to drive to neighbourhood villages or even travel to the next big towns. And of course these accidents have consequences for meetings and mean for me to leave the house more early than I want to. One day I even stopped my breakfast to make sure I will be at the appointment in time. It worked out fine, because the traffic jams had already lost some kilometres.

One day I was standing in a traffic jam on our motorway for about three hours. The sun was shining and it was quite warm. At that time I did not have any air-condition in my car so that I opened the window even though the air was polluted, but the heat in the car was unbearable with time progressing. I used the time to chat with other drivers, talked to some lorry drivers to find out how things are progressing because they are often informed by their colleagues who are standing at the beginning of the traffic jam or by other lorries passing the accident. At that time we did not use the mobile phones as intensive as we do it nowadays.

Time

While you are travelling think how you are able to use the time efficiently. It can be a challenge because the people around you might talk or even celebrate with singing songs, talking loud after having drank some alcohol, etc. When you are travelling by train or plane you might read an interesting book, you might work at an presentation or for example correct some examinations or homework of students. Against the noice you might use earplugs or even earmuffs.

Another opportunity I often use is having a rest or even sleep while travelling. That give me the opportunity to arrived relaxed and energetic at the appointment.

When you are travelling by car it is more difficult to relax while travelling. But that is not totally true. Depending on the traffic studies show that driving a car can be like meditation and be relaxing. Of course being in a traffic jam can be very challenging but when you cruise on a motorway driving can be very relaxing, because for drivers who have a lot of experience driving is an automatic process of your brain and does not need a lot of energy. Therefore it is helpful to practise a passive style of driving to arrive relaxed at a meeting.

Sitting

The main challenge for some people might be sitting for hours in one seat and not being able to get up and walk around. Especially when you are sitting at a window place or are cramped because of narrow seats or when the rows of seats are not giving a lot of space it can be challenge to sit still for a long time. In these cases meditation might be a way to relax your body and to take out tension of your body and to direct your concentration onto other subjects. Also sleeping helps to relax your muscles and to undermine the wish of moving.

A possibility of moving on a plane is always to go to the toilet or to stand up when the plane shows its signs that you might take off your safety-belt. For safety reasons the crew will not really approve of you standing in the aisle and it will be a problem when they serve food and beverages. But getting up to visit the toilet is the most elegant way of moving about without any remarks.

Length of a meeting

The length and the depths of a meeting can be challenging too. The length of a meeting may be a problem especially when it happens regularly. In this case you should intervene and to ask to focus on the subject of the meeting. Do not tell members of the meeting off. Be polite but straight. Do not explain why you want the meeting to finish on schedule because you do not need to legitimate your interests. It is your right to ask for the meeting to finish on time.

What do I mean with depths? The depth of the meeting is often connected to the length of it. A meeting should be succinct which means it should short and efficient. Often we have the case that members like to hear themselves talking and do not find an end of there speech or comment. Now it depends in which position you are in. If you are a supervisor oder in a leadership position you might intervene but if you are a team member it might be that you do not have the chance to intervene directly and might think that you have to put up with the current situation. Then it might be a strategy to think of a way of leaving the meeting. In this case you could perhaps mention that you still have work to do which is important for the next day or you are expecting a phone call or you have another meeting and so on.

Of course you have to know whether there will be other important subjects for you to be discussed during the meeting. If this is the case it might be an idea to brainstorm a subject you have to prepare on a piece of paper in silence or to politely leave the meeting for a phone call to do which gives you the possibility to reenter the meeting. If you have even more than one meeting at a day it can become even worse.

You might find this impolite, but talking for sake of talking is as impolite as using the time for your purposes. The person who is doing this is stealing your precious time. The only thing we cannot buy in life is time. And if it means you are even working extra hours it is getting really bad and you will have to find your way of saying no. You have a right to have some recreation and working extra hours because of some people are not able to work succinct is a matter were you have to care for yourself.

But when it is your time of presenting something in a meeting make sure you are using the time efficiently. It would be as impolite to spend the precious time of your colleagues as much as you do not like it otherwise.

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