Jessica Kay
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When staff members are called in for team meetings, you don't want to be the one person who makes it a waste of time for all the other participants. Whether you've got a ton of one-on-one meetings, a weekly staff meeting or an all-hands meeting once a quarter, there are some general ground rules for the topics of discussion (only agenda items) that are permitted and the ideas employees can throw out (that relate to those agenda items) in order to have effective meetings.

Staff meetings at work are unavoidable, however much you may dislike them or find them to be a waste of time. However, a meeting has many merits — it fosters a sense of team, brings remote employees closer to the team, and allows announcements to be made in a more personal and efficient way. Good staff meetings are run intentionally, with a purpose, and are designed to be cognizant of team members' time. Usually, there would be an agenda, a clear set of points to be discussed as the goal of the meeting. As such, staff meetings are also a place that amplifies — it amplifies your successful aura if you are an intelligent super-performer and a tactful communicator. On the other hand, if you are not intentional and thoughtful about the things you say, you could put yourself in sticky situations.

1. Don’t bring up issues that should be discussed privately. 

Anything related to performance issues (your own or others’), questions about leadership & directions, complaints toward a team member should always be discussed in private. Additionally, topics as such should only be discussed with the appropriate person on the team and be discussed with complete confidence.

2. Don’t bring up issues that only pertain to yourself. 

In other words, don’t hijack the meeting and make it all about you. It’s okay to mention projects that you’re the sole contributor to for the purpose of updating the team. But don’t go into the gory details of why things aren’t working, or the daily challenges you experience, or how difficult it is to work with IT. If the participants don’t have the power to resolve or influence changes, don’t waste the group’s time just so you can vent.

3. Don’t say, “It’s not my job” or “I don’t have time for that."

This is more of a rule of thumb anywhere at work, applicable outside of staff meetings, too. No one likes to have unexpected work dumped on them on top of their existing workload. But if additional work comes your way, it’s either that you’re the only person that can do it or the work is so important it must be done. You are better off discussing with your manager, in private, if you question your bandwidth as being flexible enough to accommodate the new project. Saying these two things in a staff meeting makes you sound like you are evading responsibilities and refusing to be a team player.

4. Don’t talk over your colleagues when they’re talking. 

This sounds like a no brainer, but when you are passionate or just feel strongly for whatever reason about a topic, sometimes people speak up out of urgency before they realize they’re cutting others off. This behavior is detrimental to the group’s team dynamic if certain members of the team feel like they are constantly being interrupted.

5. Don’t talk about things unrelated to the agenda. 

It doesn’t matter how urgent or how important you think it is, don’t bring it up especially if you know it will get people really talking about it. If you truly feel the need for the topic to be discussed, schedule another meeting. The reason why group meetings are voted as the number 1 time waster in the corporate world is that people digress and don’t stick to the agenda, or the worst of all, don’t have an agenda.

6. Don’t call your coworker out. 

This point is borderline common sense, but sometimes under the disguise of “for the betterment of the team” or serving justice, some of us feel the urgency to call people out on their mistakes, omission, or flaws. Similar to number one, have these discussions in private. Even more importantly, consider if it’s your place to bring up the issue to begin with.

7. Don’t insist on a point of view or position if there doesn’t seem to be a consensus. 

If the team has reached a public impasse, a prolonged debate of the issue rarely fosters the creation of actual agreement. Let the topic rest for a bit, and streamline the options being debated, and ask the team to choose them over email or in a one-on-one environment. Whenever a team member goes on arguing about simply for the sake argument and to be “right,” it’s usually irrelevant for the group at that point.

8. Never forget to practice empathy. 

This is a rule to stick to in a lot of murky situations. Would you like to be on the receiving end of what you’re about to say? Are there better circumstances under which you can bring this up? How would you feel to be having this conversation right this minute? Asking these questions puts yourself in the shoes of the recipient of what you are wanting to say. Often times, this reverse thinking will answer your question of “Should I say this now” when you’re in doubt.  

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Jessica is a writer, a digital marketer, social media aficionado and a lifestyle blogger at Cubicle Chic. Through her writing, Jessica aims to connect with fellow corporate 9-5ers who may be bound by an office physically but crave for much more in life. She writes blog posts about inter-office politics, how to climb the corporate ladder, resolve interpersonal conflicts, and how to do it all in the best outfits possible. Jessica lives in sunny San Diego with her husband and two cats, Lulu and Miles.