Thursday, 29 May 2014

Ssshhhhhhh... What did he say?

Listening is an art and meeting room is the Gridiron where you can actually see the masters of this art. Any and every meeting has always got me new learning. As an active or passive participant a meeting can teach you a lot and not all of it would be from the content of the meetings. People, Environment, Attitudes and flow contribute a big chunk. While in the last few months we religiously started pulling scrums, requirement meetings, technical calls and other project discussions and each of them called for a a few meetings. For few of these meetings I just attended as passive participant and took time to observe and notice a few things. I tried but could not resist myself from putting this over....

How do you identify who is not listening or been attentive in the meeting?

I noticed a pattern, a pattern that speaks when people are not listening, understanding or don't care. Here are a few of them...

1. Eye Contact
Participants that are not making eye contact are most times not listening. Although this is not a hard and fast rule, I have noticed that non listeners are usually found looking in Zero or most times at objects. 

2. Reaction
If they don't react to situations they are not listening. The funniest thing I observed was when a spontaneous joke is cracked you would notice the non listeners to burst into laughter or smile when everyone is done or midway. An absurd thing said in the meeting would also go unnoticed by the non listeners.

3. Body Language
Folded Hands, raised eyebrows, blank face and consistently moving / shaking legs also display that the focus is not meeting. People who are attentive or listening can be found either leaning forward to speak or listen.

4. Questions, Replies and endorsements
You would always notice non listeners raising or asking questions that are already answered. Easiest way to track them. If a person endorses everything it "can" mean he/she was not listening.

5. The Zero Effect
Participants that are standing with absolutely no emotions, words and actions are probably thinking of what they are wearing for their date in the evening. I have also noticed some of the non listeners to be drawing things.

6. Interjections
If they consistently use interjections like "Yeah" "Yes" "hmm" without any changing patterns.. they are probably not listening.

7. All the Gadgetry Goofs
Fiddling phones, Nails, keys are signs of no interest in discussions.

Do you see any disconnected meeting participants? What do you think they do?