Few people realize though we live in a so called free country, much of the time, everything someone says can and will be held against them in some capacity. Of course, the people most affected by this are those in the public eye, such as entertainers and politicians. The scary thing is that it doesn’t take much for this to occur.
In business – it really isn’t much different. In reality, every piece of communication a staff member or executive puts out – whether it is verbally or in writing – can easily come back to bite them, if they are not careful.
I try to think before I speak, but truth be told – it is hard at times. On the one hand, businesses want us to be creative geniuses, but they still expect a certain amount of decorum.
I’ve found the environment setting for business meetings makes it easier to maintain some semblance of respect. Cramped, crowded conference rooms get stuffy and uncomfortable. Then people get irritated and a sort of meeting rage can set in. That may seem overly dramatic, but you’d be surprised what goes on behind closed doors in offices sometimes.
In meetings, I try to make it a point to always let speakers complete their thought processes before interjecting. I know it’s hard, but once people start talking over each other, no one can understand what is being said anyway.
One of the best ways to ensure you don’t step over the line and damage egos or your own reputation is to put a little thought into the meeting before it starts. This goes well beyond scanning over the agenda – assuming someone distributes one. In some circumstances, the agenda can fall through the cracks. But even if you don’t get one, you can make your own outline. That way, if the topic gets uncomfortable and tension seems to build, you can try changing the subject.
Just be sure you’re careful of what you say and how you say it. When I book a fresh, spacious conference room that has everything we need, meetings just tend to go better. People seem more relaxed and less anxious. That means they are less likely to get frustrated and say some boneheaded thing that could get them kicked off the island!