Transformative Meetings (No, Really!) with Priya Parker

No one loves meetings, but we all attend them — probably a lot of them! So why are so many meetings so bad, and how can we make them better…or stop having them in the first place? On today’s show, we talk to author and facilitator Priya Parker about how to make gatherings of all kinds more meaningful, memorable, and inclusive.

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Priya is a professionally trained in conflict resolution, and has worked on race relations at college campuses and on peace processes globally. She’s the founder of Thrive Labs and the author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. And she’s got a ton to say about bringing people together with purpose.

Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering
When I hear “we want everyone to be excellent to each other,” it makes me angry. And the reason it makes me angry is because it’s a power-blind way of seeing. It assumes that people when they walk in, that there aren’t any power dynamics, that there isn’t any hierarchy. That everyone will behave in the way that in your mind you think everybody behaves. And it assumes that you are creating a utopia without actually doing anything to create that utopia.

Priya tells us all about:

  • How we’ve reduced meetings to the “things” — like food, wine, and table settings — and let our people wither. “This reflects an assumption that we’ve had for many decades, which is if you get the things right in the gathering, everything else will take care of itself. And I can tell you as a group facilitator, that is not true.
  • Why even events like sex parties have a ton of structure. “It allows people to actually organize and be around that purpose in a way that they don’t have to feel like they’re having to take care of themselves and each other.”
  • Why “being chill” isn’t going to make your event relaxed. “Being chill is actually a selfish act. Because you’re doing it because of how you want people to see you.”

Links:

Also in this episode, Katel and Sara talk about the joys and challenges of running meetings, the power and vulnerability of owning your expertise, and so much more. Plus: we chat with Graywolf Press about new books to read this spring, and celebrate getting involved in grassroots organizations.

☞ And there’s always a full transcript.


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