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5 bad habits in office meetings

Bad habits in office meetings

If you’re an office professional, then meetings are likely commonplace in your workday. They’re part of the job, and they’re how a lot of work — and communication — gets done. On the other hand, bad meeting habits can cause distractions and derail an otherwise efficient meeting into the realm of unproductivity. 

You might see a range of bad habits, from biting fingernails to eating, or even worse. “Chewing tobacco was the most obnoxious,” says Kyle Steadham, EdD, a human resource program instructor for University of Phoenix, remembering a particularly bad habit one co-worker displayed in meetings.

While tobacco use during a business meeting may be uncommon, other behaviors can be just as disturbing and, Steadham says, “can create an image that you are unreliable or not engaged.” Here are five meeting habits you should be sure to curb:


Using your smartphone.

“It shows you’re not engaged,” Steadham says. “You’re sending the message that the meeting is not important to you.” He recommends leaving your phone behind. “Before [phones] were invented, people used to survive without phones in meetings.”

Steadham suggests that texting, updating your Facebook® status, browsing websites and even checking work email should wait until after the meeting is over, regardless of how many you attend in a day.


Having side conversations.

You may not be aware of this, but any side conversation during a meeting is disrupting, even if it relates to the meeting at hand. “It’s like talking during a movie,” Steadham explains. The results are intensified during conference calls, when it may be hard to hear the meeting presenter.


Showing up when you’re sick.

Sure, you have little control over when you get sick, but you do have control over calling into or attending a meeting. “Coughing, hacking, wheezing or even announcing that you’re sick can be distracting,” Steadham says. Consider not going to the meeting but contacting the meeting organizer ahead of time so you can share your ideas and have someone take notes for you.


Coming in late or leaving early.

Sometimes showing up late or leaving a meeting early is inevitable. Although it’s best to avoid this practice as much as possible, make sure to give “a heads up to the facilitator,” Steadham encourages. Otherwise, people may form opinions about your behavior that aren’t true.


Being a conversation hog.

Often, when someone is dominating the conversation in a meeting, he or she is unaware of it. “It’s just not conducive to the productivity of a meeting,” Steadham explains.

Co-workers may perceive a conversation hog as someone who is hard to collaborate with because of the need for control. If you find yourself dominating the discussion, make sure to ask others for input, and listen to their responses.

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