Monday, February 13, 2006

8 types of meeting attendees

Some personalities that come out in meetings, especially at big software companies.
  1. The Talker
    You know what I'm talking about. People who think talking is the same as contributing. On bad days I'm that guy.

  2. The Boss
    This person may or may not actually be the boss. The main strategy is to get everyone talking and working together constructively, then use the political capital he's just gained to hijack the meeting and implement his own agenda at the last minute. Get on his good side, because he'll be the boss eventually.

  3. The Sigher
    This guy (almost always a guy) will audibly sigh whenever he disagrees with something. If pressed, he'll refuse to go into details on why he disagrees or what exactly his problem is. I don't like this one.

  4. The Lurker
    Sits in the meeting, slightly aloof, and doesn't participate at all. He may offer a single quietly stated opinion near the end of the meeting. Mostly harmless.

  5. The Stealth Lurker
    You might think this guy is a real lurker, but he isn't. He's the one who says nothing for the whole meeting then offers a single quietly stated opinion near the end. Then, no matter what everyone else agreed on, his plan gets implemented. How did it happen? Who knows. This guy has some power you don't understand. Get to know him.

  6. The Meanderer
    This one is like the talker, except he meanders all over and creates long, drawn out metaphors that nobody understands. A friend at yahoo (the same one who hates all new yahoos) once said about a meanderer: "I love [person]. Whenever we're in a early morning meeting I throw him a real softball question then just lean back and zone out."

  7. The killer
    Aims to destroy other people rather than win arguments or get his way. This guy is annoying but not really dangerous since he is easily recognized. The best strategy is to put him in a meeting with another killer, get them arguing, then excuse yourself and go play air hockey.

  8. The productive, reasonable contributor
    If you get three of these people together in a meeting you should change the topic to quitting and starting a new company.
I'm sure I've missed a lot here. Please add your own in the comment section.

35 Comments:

Blogger Thor said...

The Debator
Likes to play devil's advocate to any reasonable idea. Believes it helps to make ideas better by answering the tough questions. When they have the self-awareness to know who to engage with and when to back-off the Debator can be quite valuable to a discussion. However, if they're just argumentative or don't know when to shut up, they morph into the Debator's evil twin--the Constipator.

1:36 AM, February 14, 2006  
Blogger Technogeekboy said...

The Grave Digger

Can't help saying things like "Well in the past, we did it this way..." or "When we tried to do that before..." Feels an obligation to remind everyone about the past and offers nothing new, original, or fresh. Can sometimes be helpful in avoiding past missteps, but usually just annoys everyone and kills ideas.

7:38 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger JayZee said...

The re-phraser:
Special case of 1. Instead of coming up with original drivel, merely sycophantically rephrases earlier contributions from 2, in such a way that any original meaning is lost in translation. Loss of information mainly due to excessive and incorrect use of large words.

10:40 PM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Hypothesizer
A special variant of the Debator/Constipator. Likes to consider special situations in front of the entire group, rather than letting the meeting end (and taking the question to the correct person in private) without displaying his cleverness. Particularly bad in HR presentations, where he seems to be carefully questioning new policies, but is actually raising issues that apply only to him. On the bright side, can be reasonably relied upon as a "miner's canary"--if he feels that it is an appropriate time in a meeting to raise the level of detail, you can safely assume that the fundamental business of the meeting is over and you can simply get up and leave.

11:28 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger TGN said...

The Asleep
His job , he feels is to sleep and be uninterested.sometimes you are glad ,bec if he wakes up chances are he will be :
The "I Dont Understand"
No matter how well you explain or how valid your point is, this dude refuses to understand,His fevourit line is "man this does not make any sense to me,can you explain it again?" or something like that.

2:57 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Woman
The "guy" in the meeting who's actually not a "guy"... she's female! Because they've been let loose into the workplace, Lord help us every one!

4:13 AM, February 23, 2006  
Blogger Mike P said...

The "Uh-Huh. Uh-Huh. Right. Yes" Man.

At the last 2 places I have worked there has been this guy with terrets of some kind that forces him to constantly say "uh-huh, right, right, yes, uh-huh" while other people are talking. Truly annoying and kinda disturbing.

5:51 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Scott Rubin said...

Air hockey, w00t!!!!

oh, btw. I am totally the guy who doesn't go to meetings. I sit at a computer all day coding and posting on blogs.

6:38 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous yabo071 said...

The Problem Finder

"...You know, this isn't gonna work. Here is why:"...""
This guy always finds a problem. Always. Tough part is that he is mostly right. He is a mix between The Debator and The Grave Digger with a talent for screwing up everybody's else bright ideas. Real buzz killer. He never offers solution, only points out at a valid issues in ones logic.
I hate this guy but would still hire him to be on the board of my own company.

6:52 AM, February 23, 2006  
Blogger Dan said...

The "I just spoke and am not listening to you now because I am thinking about what I am going to say next, Guy.

I work and meet with this guy all day long. He says something, often a very long tedious diatribe and then when you get your chance to speak he is not listening at all, but is instead composing his next brilliant disertation. Once his thought is complete he will start to say YES YES Uh-huh, very loudly until you stop speaking so he can talk again.
This particaulr guy also has an annoying side effeft: Saying words like "Fair enough, fair enough" all the time, or "the long and short of it is...."
I am currently writing them all down and plan on writing a book about dumb things people say over and over again.

7:42 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Ben Bishop said...

The Yes Man /Woman

Not just meetings but every office encounter is just concurred with and agreed. Even when the two sides of the argument, the polar opposites, are put forward the 'Yes' person manages to agree with everything that is said!

8:43 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Matt said...

The Know-It-all

This guy/gal is the one who knows a lot about the topic, but is all too counter-productive because their only aim is publicly exhibit their knowledge. It's hard to keep a productive meeting in motion with these people. It's even harder to shut them up, and they're often offended when you do.

9:01 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The One-Track

Has one thing to contribute, and will bring it up when he feels neccessary, regardless of its relevance. This usually occurs as the group is starting to make headway on a meaty issue.

9:14 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Deeply Confused

This type of attendee often comes into meeting a little late and has not participated in the events which led to this meeting. They listen and try to quickly absorb all of the pertinent information but often end up disrupting and diluting the focus of the meeting. What they do not know is the most dangerous element in the meeting. Often will use tangential arguments and strained logic to attempt to redefine reality to suit their purposes. What is most difficult about this attendee is they are often the person in charge of final decisions.

10:13 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bureaucrat

Believes that the sole purpose of meetings is to schedule more meetings. Can frequently be heard saying "Do we need to bring in so-and-so for this?" and "Can we take this offline to a separate meeting?" Willing to discuss the agenda ad nauseam; not willing to take responsibility for any of the items on it. Penchant for holding meetings to discuss who should be in the next meeting and what should be on the agenda. (Note that admins who take care of the underlying details to make the meeting actually happen are exempted from this.)

10:50 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smelly Guy

Loves to enter the room right before you do so that everyone in the meeting wonders if you or him is to blame. Under-deodorized. It's like smelly guy took a shower the morning of the meeting and then ran a marathon to work. Builds trust and comraderie among the attendees after Smelly Guy leaves when someone makes a "P.U." face and everyone left shares a nervous laugh. Smelly Guy cannot be assumed dangerous, other than the noxious underarm fumes.

10:52 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Psuedo Boss
Think they're running the meeting; blather on throughout the meeting, delegating this, lecturing about that, drawing up schedules and so on and so forth. All of which is quietly ignored and arranged sensibly by the rest of the participants after the psuedo-boss's meeting is over.

12:56 PM, February 23, 2006  
Blogger Pfotomoblog said...

The PowerBooker (or Laptopper

Spends first 15 minutes of meeting trying to get laptop connected. Then promptly spends entire meeting heads-down and fingers on keyboard. Mumbles a "uh-huh" every so often.

1:05 PM, February 23, 2006  
Blogger S.C.Faulkner said...

The Non-sequitur
This is the person who feels the need to ask questions like, "How are relations going with *such and such*?" or "How do you think *so and so* feels about project *this and that*?" in the middle of an unrelated planning meeting.

I theorize that this person is attempting to brown-nose, by seeming interested, but lacks the discretion to get the timing right.

This person is eventually fired, or stabbed in the eye with a fancy pen.

4:02 PM, February 23, 2006  
Blogger S.C.Faulkner said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:03 PM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous kelly said...

The Assassin

The person in the room that you know has great influence, but makes no comment, just observes. If this person usually engages in the discussion but chooses to say nothing, beware. This archtype tends not to be on the management/political side of things, but can be. Lack of participation indicates displeasure with the discussion, but realizes they can't change the direction in that meeting... but will take every opportunity to do so on the back side with their influence.

5:26 PM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous kelly said...

The "Sorry I'm Late" Person

The person who comes late to a meeting that is held specifically for their benefit. Regardless the patience of the other attendees ("we'll wait 5 more minutes"), they will show up exactly 1 minute after the key discussion points are conveyed. The salient points then have to be re-explained to this lost soul at the painful expense of other attendees, with already answered questions re-hashed. This person has a perpetually perplexed expression on their face.

5:39 PM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Blagger

Sits in the meeting, but nobody knows who they are. The fact that they neither have anything to do with the meeting nor even work in the company is never discovered because everyone's too embarrassed to ask "Who are you?"

5:18 AM, February 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Passive Aggressive

You finally get all the personalities to come to consensus in the meeting. Even the Sleeper wakes up and agrees. Then this Lurker Look Alike, who arrived late, comes back into the room after a personal break and agrees with the group. However, you get back to your office to find an email to the group and cc'ed to your boss, your boss's boss, the entire Board of Directors and the General Secretary of the U.N. to let you know why the plan won't work and that they have an objection.

7:45 AM, February 24, 2006  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Oh, the Passive Aggressive, good one!

I knew an executive who would sit in the meeting and agree with everyone on most points, then sit back and type on his blackberry. After the meeting everyone would return to their desks and find emails from the exec's blackberry instructing them to do the exact opposite of what was agreed.

12:15 PM, February 24, 2006  
Anonymous ben said...

The Complicat-er
Similar to the Grave Digger or the Deeply Confused - finds the exception to every rule and raises trivial issues to the level of near disaster in order to offer their own value-building solutions and in doing so, wastes all our time by not just fixing the minor issue in the first place.

12:51 PM, February 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fairness Maven
This is the person who is always concerned about things being fair. Doesn't understand the concept beyond the level of a small child, but always has something to say about fairness. Often focused on an issue affecting only one person in the entire organization, not necessarily the maven. A real spirit drainer.

1:23 PM, February 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sewing Circle Employee

The person who talks far too much about their personal life and what they did on the weekend during the meeting instead of the topic at hand. They'll even try to relate the topic to their personal life: "This ad won't work. It reminds me of something I saw ehen I took Johnny to the baseball game last weekend ..."

1:37 PM, February 28, 2006  
Blogger kk4i said...

The Question Asker/Answerer.

This is the person who asks a question of a particular subject matter expert and then interrupts the person before they can speak and gives the version of the answer they want to hear. Master of putting words in others' mouths but making it seem like an endorsed opinion from someone actually qualified to give the opinion. This is the sole archetype who can actually hold the entire meeting by themself and get the same amount accomplished.

3:18 PM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger Linda said...

The Delusional Problem Finder

Tries to fit the profile of the Problem Finder, but is in waaay over their heads skillswise. Nevertheless, that doesn't stop them from coming up with something completely insane that to them sounds like a potential issue, demonstrating to everyone that they have absolutely no understanding of what's being discussed.

4:03 PM, March 09, 2006  
Blogger Linda said...

or...The Frustation Sublimator

This person gave up all hope years ago that anything meaningful will ever come out of meetings and displays his/her frustration by performing tiny tricks, such as continually twirling their pen in dazzling arrays, the speed of which increases when someone airs an especially boneheaded thought.

4:14 PM, March 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:25 PM, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember the days when someone would mention life is fun and the usual reaction was huh?

7:06 PM, November 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pissing Contest Guy

Sublimates agony of small penis, short stature or some other inadequacy by belittling the contributions of other males in the room. Related: Sarcasm Guy, Know-it-all Guy; Dismissive Guy.

9:26 AM, May 13, 2007  
Blogger International House of Pedantics said...

Here is the Doyle and Straus list:
# The Latecomer -
# The Early Leaver -
# The Broken Record -
# The Doubting Thomas -
# The Headshaker -
# The Dropout -
# The Whisperer -
# The Loudmouth -
# The Attacker -
# The Interpreter -
# The Gossiper -
# The Know-It-All -
# The Backseat Driver -
# The Busybody -
# The Interrupter -
# The Teacher's Pet -

See http://www.cedu.niu.edu/~fulmer/meetings.htm

2:36 PM, February 01, 2008  

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