Friday, August 14, 2009

Holding Your Own Against a Motormouth

If your strategy is to fly below the radar in meetings, secretly checking messages on your Blackberry or working the crossword puzzle, you may want to re-think your game plan.

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, author of "The Introverted Leader," told me that meetings are important for your career because that's where "impressions are formed."

"If a boss is asked about you, he's going to think about the way he sees you behave, and that means how you behave in meetings. If you sit there quietly and never say anything, then his impression is going to be that you don't show initiative, that you don't speak up," she says.

Perhaps you get intimidated in meetings. Perhaps you get nervous, not sure what to say, or you feel overwhelmed by a "talker." If that's the case, Kahnweiler offers some tips on how to deal with meeting motormouths:

* Don't smile or nod your head in agreement. That only encourages the long-winded participant. Maintain a flat expression.

* Don't get into a shouting match out of frustration. Offer to discuss the topic offline or table the discussion until things cool down.

* Hold up your hand with the stop signal, especially if the talker is going on and on. Then say, "I would like to say something."

* If cut off, take a cue from the pundits on the news shows' split screens. In a strong voice say, "I am speaking and would like to finish my thought."

* Prepare and make your comments with confidence.

* If you miss your opportunity in the meeting, don't hesitate to talk to the person afterward.

How else can you make yourself heard in meetings?


Jennifer said...

Anita - I love the graphic and your sharp summary of our conversation.

Conference call meetings also offer challenges - would love to hear what your readers say about getting in the conversation when you lack the non-verbal cues.

Anita said...

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight about this issue!