Cubicle Cultures

Mute buttons save lives

Let me state emphatically…I hate meetings of all kinds. In-person or conference calls, there’s no end to how many times we attend meetings during any day or week. I have 7 today, all of them overlap other meetings. Granted, some are necessary but they all aren’t. All of them “might” yield some useful information but we readily forget what was said about 5 minutes after it’s over. We are either required, optional, or simply FYI on the invites. However, all of them are technically required else you wouldn’t have been invited. If, for any reason, you can’t attend then an email will be sent with the meeting notes and you’re expected to read them and be prepared to answer any questions. No pressure there…said with an overly sarcastic tone.

Where I work, meetings are scheduled for 30 minutes or more, normally not more than an hour. That’s an hour that we can be doing something else…’else’ being the operative word. If any of you are like me, conference calls are preferred and are a great opportunity to multi-task, ie catching up on emails, reviewing project requirements, killing time, writing stuff (I’m pleading the 5th on what ‘stuff’ is but think…blogging). The biggest worry of mine is not paying full attention. It can be uber embarrasing if you’re name is called and you’re not paying attention. The standard responses are, “Sorry can you repeat the question?” or “Sorry, someone stopped at my desk and missed what was said”. Both of which are obviously saying you weren’t paying attention. I’ve used both but my go to is, “So, where’s this going?”. Not quite an admission but also not quite a lie. If it’s an in-person meeting, you’re totally screwed and can’t get away with wiping something from your nose or trying scratching certain places incognito. Just sit there and suffer.

Sending a proxy in your stead is playing with fire. Nine times out of ten the proxy will have little to no info on what the meeting is about and won’t be able to speak intelligently on the subject. This is embarrasing for the proxy and not fair. They’re put in a lose-lose situation; not the way to build trust. However, revenge is sweet when the favor is returned. SWEET I SAY!

Conference calls allow you time to go to the bathroom, brew some coffee, check your phone, anything that has nothing to do with the meeting. I’m guilty of all of these and feel no shame. I need coffee, I need to pee, and I need more coffee. Easy peasy.

One last thing, the mute button is your best friend. Raise your hand if you agree…all of you should have your hands raised. I can’t begin to count the times where I’ve been eating something, dropped an F-bomb or 9, or forgot to mute while I was “voicing my opinion”. It’s always good for a laugh but there will be a call from a manager afterwards to talk about professional behaviour. Love the mute button. Treat it with respect. Buy it a cup of coffee if you need to. If you don’t, all hell can come crashing down. When it does, your manager will call again to explain professional behaviour and the fact that hell crashing should always be muted.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, if so, please click the heart at the bottom. Feel free to share your stories in the comments. I’d love to hear your experiences! For more about me, please navigate over to and check out my books Manku and Manku Too.

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