Team meetings can be both fun and productive in healthy business environments. But too often they’re the setting for peacock strutting and bruised egos; hot air-filled games that only stress you out and add to your workload.
How do you keep a cool detachment in the middle of that?
Choose your mental state
Whether you think about it consciously or not, what you get from a meeting is what you expect. Imagine a scenario of attack and defend and that’s what will play out. But set up the positive intention that you are going to share your perspective and be heard, and it’s more likely you’ll achieve just that.
Take time before every meeting to set up your mental and physical state. Five internally-focused minutes at your desk, in the cafe, or even in the restroom will allow you to find a meditative place in yourself. Breathe into your belly to ground yourself. Harness your confidence and positivity, and lock them into your core. Hold yourself upright to embrace and align your own power. Walk into the meeting room calmly assertive, and you’re ready for Zen-like rock and roll.
Dispel unhelpful past experiences
Business provides the setting for the recreation of early-life injuries. If you were ever judged, criticized, bullied, belittled or unsupported as a kid, work, and team meetings in particular, can reconstellate these experiences. And how you feel about them. Oh, your emotions are very present, and they’re prompted by real stuff in the here-and-now. But a large part of what’s going on is more memory than reality.
To achieve a Zen-like state in meetings, become a detective on your own behalf, sniffing out the triggers that hook you into feeling less-than.
Remember you’re no longer in your family home, playground, or boarding school. You couldn’t choose your responses then, but you can now.
Break the psychic time-warp spell by holding together how you’re feeling on the one hand, with here-and-now reality on the other. Feel the paradox alive in yourself and know you can kick it. Live in the present. Find the grown-up, resourceful way of dealing with any game playing that provokes you.
To give you an idea of how-to, here are 3 specific instances where game-playing can catch you. And how you can harness your Zen in dealing with them.
So, you give a progress update, or you do a presentation, and before you know it the guns are out, blowing holes in your argument.
Historically you might have bowed under the pressure, or retaliated. Either way, you’ve never come out winning.
The Zen way is to use the calm confidence you stepped into ahead of the meeting to help you talk back powerfully.
Ask questions to reinforce that confidence and buy yourself thinking time:
- “Help me understand what you mean.”
- “Can you say more?”
- “What specifically don’t you like?”
- “Tell me how you’d rather see it working.”
- “You’re not totally bought in to this, are you?”
- “I hear your concern.”
- “So you think this won’t go down well with Customer Services?”
- “I chose to take this approach because…”
- “All the data we’ve got suggests…”
- “This was a synthesis of all the views I collated from you last time.”
- “As the owner and subject matter expert on this, I strongly believe that this is the best way forward.”
Challenge any inconsistencies:
- “Last time I brought this up, you supported it. Now you’re criticizing it. What is your position?”
- “Outside of this meeting you told me that you wanted red, now you’re saying blue. Which am I to run with?”
Keep your voice tone level, and your pace even. Keep your body posture open and receptive.
Being talked over
The voices in team meetings like theirs to be heard often, meaning you can struggle to heard.
If they start talking before you’ve made your point, you must stay assertive and interrupt. “I hadn’t finished. What I wanted to say was…”
If they take your point and run off with it at a tangent, bring it back. “That’s interesting, however, my point was rather…”
If you’re being polite, waiting for a gap in the conversation to talk, you may never get it. Don’t wait to be invited. Just start talking. And, if there are peacocks that may mean pushing yourself into the discussion and speaking before they’ve finished.
Being dumped with all the action steps
If you find yourself becoming the pack-pony for stuff to do offline of the meeting, challenge it. “I can do this for the next meeting, but I won’t be able to do that too. Which is the priority?”
Remember that Zen is all about self-mastery, something that’s the subject of continual practice and improvement. Instead of seeing team meetings as a drudge, see them as another opportunity to learn about yourself and grow. Another opportunity to polish and perfect. Try some of these things out and see what works and what doesn’t. Don’t think win or lose. While the other players may think the game exists on the outside, understand that for you there is only the internal game, and that your opponent is always only yourself.