Eli Broad is ruthless during meetings - and for good reason

You know you're in trouble when Broad says, "Let's move on." It's a polite-ish way of saying, "I'm bored, this is a pointless discussion, I have better things to do." The L.A. billionaire, like other big-wigs, are usually masters of time control, but what if you're not really, really rich and find yourself stuck in an endless, hopeless meeting? WSJ columnist Sue Shellenbarger has a piece on the personality types that tend to commandeer meetings: The jokester, the dominator, the naysayer, and the rambler.

Multitasking at meetings is such a given that unless a leader sets a "no devices" rule or schedules "tech breaks," nearly everyone texts or sneaks a peek at email during meetings. And yet, that is nothing compared with real sabotage. Naysayers are the ones who "whatever you bring up, it will never work," says Dana Brownlee, founder of Professionalism Matters, a corporate-training company in Atlanta. One of her strategies is to take serial naysayers to lunch before meetings to let them vent and try to reach agreement. Once the meeting begins, she sets ground rules, requiring anyone who complains also to offer a solution. Another problem personality is the silent plotter, Ms. Brownlee says. "They may be the quiet person sitting in back, but as soon as the meeting is over, they're over there by the Coke machine, planning your demise," she says.

By the way, office workers spend an average of four hours a week in meetings and they consider half of that time to be wasted, according to a British study.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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