Thursday, January 18, 2007

Meeting Persona

We had our first "meet the rest of the tour group" meeting tonight for my daughters trip to France and Italy this coming spring.

And before I arrived at the meeting, I promised myself that I was going to sit quietly, just listen, just be a demure matronly mother. But was I able to keep my promise to myself? Oh I tried, I really did. I think I made it all of 10 minutes. Sitting there with my hands folded in my lap, my legs crossed at the ankle, sitting up straight, being a good listener. But................

I have this wee little problem, it occurs most often when I have to attend a meeting, or participate in small gatherings of people, people that are strangers to each other. I observe, I listen, and I see all of these people fidgeting in that way we sometimes do when we are uncomfortable.

Then something just comes over me, and I can't seem to help it. I will crack a joke, trying to break the ice, even if I only elicit a smile here or there, of course a chuckle is even better. But I don't stop with just one, whenever the situation amuses me, or something strikes me I will comment.....and many times they are rather irreverant comments.

But it worked and it felt good, because by the end of the hour long meeting, people were more lively, chatting more easily, asking the questions that needed to be asked. Instead of sitting there like "good little school children" listening to their teacher.

It wasn't until recent years that I even knew I behaved in such a way, I was attending a "meet your legislator" meeting, all of the program managers were required to attend, along with our board members, and upper management, I had one of those "observing myself from afar" moments, and witnessed myself and the rest of the attendees, that is when I noticed I had slipped on the role of "ice breaker". All the program managers at my level seemed so nervous, as was I, because we were supposed to "sell" our programs to the politicians, had to make them realize that the state funding our organization received really was put to good use. I had spent the day at a small elementary school giving presentations, 7 if I remember correctly, I was mentally exhausted, or so I thought. But I do know my defenses were down. I didn't feel like playing the game. I remember that moment of self-observation, and thinking what are you doing? This is supposed to be serious business! But no one else was appalled at my behavior, in fact later I was complimented on my image of self-assured calm.....who me?

I am not a meeting person, I have a very hard time sitting quietly, sitting still for long periods of time, listening to the seriousness of it all.

I try my best not to disturb the flow of information that must be imparted, but without even thinking, these little oneliners will just pop out of my mouth. Tonight was not the first time I ordered myself to be a "good little listener". And it is not the first time I have disobeyed myself. Somehow I don't think it will be the last either. I really do believe the addage that life is much better when experienced with a smile...I just apply that same addage to meetings.

No comments: