On Attending Meetings

When you have been in the professional services industry for over thirty years, and have been active in many non-profit groups, you attend a lot of meetings. One of the things that I have learned about meetings over the years is not to take a lot of detailed notes. Any meeting worth your time has someone taking (hopefully good) meeting minutes, or taking detailed notes themselves, which you can always get (or borrow) and refer to at your leisure. I think that people who sit in meetings and scribble a lot of detailed minutia on what is going on probably are missing what I think is the most important part of any meeting–and, that is the interaction of the people who are there, and a penetrating insight into who and what they are—and aren’t.

Over the years, I have learned to take meeting notes very sparingly. I am much more interested in intently concentrating on not only what people say, but how they say it. I am much more interested in intently concentrating on how people look when they are saying what they are saying. Listen extremely closely when people are speaking. Does their voice rise or fall? Is it serious? Does it quake?  Often you can detect anger, fear, unbridled ego, ignorance, intolerance, joy, warmth, deep concern, pity, contempt–the full range of human emotions. That can tell you an awful lot about a person. Then, peer deeply into the eyes of the person who is speaking–and, study every nuance of their face. “The eyes are the widows of the soul”, Michelangelo said.

Listen closely to how people say what they say. Peer extremely deeply into their eyes. When you get really good at this, you can often tell what someone is going to say even before they say it.

And, you will get a small peek into their heart and soul.

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