I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry

(attrib)

I was in a meeting yesterday – first time with this particular group of folks, all at same time, on this topic, although I had already established a working relationship with all. Anyway, subject matter was one that most of them had talked about at length over the past few weeks, but I was a new addition to the mix. Suffice it to say, I didn’t have too much to add to the conversation, not until the very end when chat turned to IT issues, then I piped up with a few comments, and that was it.

So today, one of these folks pointed out that I was rather quiet, and I agreed, pointing out that I had nothing to say, so why make a noise for the sake of making noise?

This is a fairly important concept to me, and it takes a decent amount of self-confidence to be able to withhold comment when one has nothing to add. How many times have you been in a meeting that drags on an additional 30 minutes or so as the talking stick goes around the room and restates, in their own words, the conclusions already reached by the group – just so they can be “on the record“.

Really, if you are in total agreement with something, and every point that can be made has been made, just say “aye” and leave it at that!

I will admit I used to be more self-conscious about stuff like that, but I had a really neat experience a few years ago at a previous gig. It was my first meeting with another group of folks, and the local “big wig” / group leader, who was driving the meeting, came up to me afterward and said rather dismissively, “You weren’t a big value add there”. No big, just let the comment roll off my back, but it was nice a few years later when, after being involved in a number of projects together directly and indirectly, the same guy came up to me and recalled that first meeting, and apologized for his remark. I was kind of stunned, really, but his reason for commenting was that in the following months he saw me and my style and in retrospect was appreciating what I didn’t do.

Experiences like that make it very easy for me to say nothing in meetings these days.

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.