Here are six etiquette mistakes to avoid at all costs.
It’s crucial to be continuously conscious of what you are contributing to a meeting, says Executive Business Coach Pat Roberts. “While meetings often feel like an interruption of work, adding and extracting value are key to making your presence worthwhile and the meeting a useful exercise.”
There are other subtle lessons to be learned, such as presence and gravitas. Roberts suggests playing out a silent scenario in meetings: Imagine that a pizza delivery man arrives at the meeting, having been told to give the pizza to the boss. Purely on how people carry themselves, who would he think was the boss? What body language lessons can you learn from that person? Listen and observe continuously to what you feel works well and what does not work, so that when you’re leading meetings, you can apply all of those lessons.
Every meeting should have an agenda. Make sure you’ve studied the agenda in advance so that you can prepare, as much as is reasonable, on each topic that will be covered. This ensures that you won’t look silly by asking questions to which everyone else knows the answer.
Business mistakes to avoid
Going to a meeting to which you can’t contribute
By being there and saying nothing you make yourself look junior and superfluous. If you don’t have a slot on the agenda, prepare a really insightful question or suggestion to offer. If the meeting is outside of your realm of expertise or does not fall within your job spec – then seek clarification on why you were asked to attend or politely decline.
Thinking that more is better
Be aware of how much you contribute. Do not dominate the discussion unless you are specifically asked to elaborate. The bigger the group size, the less airtime each individual has – so be particularly wary of speaking too much in a meeting with many people.
Being ill prepared
It is very easy to see when someone has failed to prepare because they often look surprised or flustered when they are asked to contribute. This could lead your colleagues to believe that you are not contributing your fair share or that you lack interest and business acumen.
Not having the agenda and supporting documentation
Always read and take note of the agenda and the minutes of the last meeting to ensure you are fully aware of what is expected of you and of the team. Pay particular attention to the points that relate specifically to you.
Using your mobile phone or laptop during meetings
This makes it seem as if your presence at the meeting is less important than other things in your life. You also run the risk of missing important information or opportunities to contribute. Always be fully present in meetings.
Failing to send apologies if you can’t attend
Not only is this rude, but it could be very disruptive if the other parties are relying on your feedback in order to achieve the outcomes of the meeting. Always give sufficient notice and a reason for your non-attendance.