There’s no way to make every meeting a home run. But there is one easy (and effective) way to make them much less miserable. The secret is knowing who’s in the room.   

Meetings are a dreaded necessity in our modern work culture. A quick Google search reveals endless tips for making meetings better (Stick to the agenda but also: make it fun! Stand, don’t sit! Hear from everyone! Keep it quick!) but most tips overlook a simple but critical fact: We’re all wired differently

That means the light-hearted fun that improves meetings for some people will feel like a waste of time to others. And the discussion and consensus-building that helps half the team feel valued is torturous to the ones who’d rather get to work. 

Is it possible to host a meeting that works well for everyone? 

Honestly, probably not. (Sorry to be blunt.) But taking temperaments into account will move your team much closer to the bull’s eye. 

Being aware of everyone’s wiring allows you to do some tangible things to meet each person’s needs and preferences (see the lists below) but more than that, it allows you to have grace for one another. 

You’ll understand why the casual chit-chat that eats up the first twenty minutes grates on Susan and Mark; why Eli never speaks up; why Noel rambles; why Julian wants to stop debating and decide already; why Kate wants to bring up one more thing you haven’t considered yet. 

This allows you to meet folks where they are. Rather than feel frustrated by their behavior and reactions, you’ll know it’s their wiring at work. On good days, your team might even be able to poke some playful fun at one another. “Okay, okay… Sam is going to walk out of the room if we don’t stop telling stories and get started. So Sam, why don’t you kick things off for us?”

Here are a few ways your teammates’ wiring* might show up in meetings. When planning, consider who will be in the room with you and how you can adjust the agenda to accommodate them. 

*Not sure of your teammates’ wiring (or your own)? A couple of hours with Kathleen Edelman’s latest book will clue you in. The 40-question online assessment can too. 

YELLOW teammates… 

  • Love a bit of fun—some storytelling, social time, or the chance to have a laugh.
  • Will tune out when discussion drags on or gets too detailed.
  • Are unlikely to prepare ahead of time (but are great on their feet!).
  • Think by speaking, so they might share ideas before they are fully formed or ramble on while trying to figure out what they really mean to say. 
  • Have FOMO. They’d rather be invited to a meeting they can decline to attend than feel excluded or left out. 

RED teammates…

  • Value efficiency. They’d like to get down to business and save the socializing for the end (when they can slip out the door). 
  • Will grow impatient with endless debate and delayed decisions.
  • Have strong opinions and good ideas that they don’t mind defending if necessary.
  • Crave credit for their work (and ideas) but typically prefer private affirmation to public celebration. 
  • Delegate well, so they like meetings that conclude with clear action steps for everyone. 

BLUE teammates…

  • Want to feel prepared. Sending them the agenda or discussion topics in advance gives them time to gather their thoughts so they can show up ready to contribute. 
  • Like having all the details. Every. Last. One.
  • Are willing to stick with discussion until every option and/or obstacle has been considered.
  • Won’t speak up if they don’t trust the people in the room. 
  • Struggle with spontaneous changes to the agenda, location, duration, or start time.

GREEN teammates…

  • Keep their reactions neutral. Elation or frustration often look the same on their faces.
  • Are uncomfortable with heated debate and heightened emotion.
  • May not readily volunteer but can be counted on to help however it’s needed.
  • Prefer to observe and keep quiet until they are called on to share their thoughts. 
  • Can roll with the punches if the agenda changes or the meeting needs to be rescheduled.

Use these insights to plan an upcoming meeting and see if the time isn’t a bit more pleasant and productive for everyone involved. Then grab a copy of I Said This, You Heard That and prepare to understand your colleagues better than ever before.

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