Richard Maun – Spotting Agitated Kids In Meetings

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Spotting Agitated Kids In Meetings

5 October 2014

Kids are great, in fact I used to be one….as we all did. Kids have exuberance and energy and they fizz with optimism and imagination. So, pity the kids who go to school and instead of classrooms of light and colour are forced to sit in bare rooms with just a sheaf of paper and 140 PowerPoint slides for company…

And if you’re thinking that doesn’t sound like a school near you then perhaps reframe the image from a school to an office and from kids to …us!

We might be ‘grown ups’ and are in charge of the planet, but that doesn’t stop us from getting bored and letting our attention wander. It’s curious that schools have short, pacey lessons, with regular breaks and yet business meetings can drag on for hours, with minimal refreshment and even less stimulation.

We are all kids at heart and so our archaic behaviours are all embedded and will surface when we are listless, underwhelmed, tired, stressed or just plain fed up. Agitation is a good indication that ‘something is up’ and if we spot it in others it makes sense to check their understanding, take a break, ask if they’re ok, or perhaps end the meeting and give people time to go away and let their brain cool off and their thinking to develop.

Spotting agitated kids is easy and telltale signs include…

1. Tapping feet – people let their energy out safely under the table.
2. Drawing boxes – doodling is generally a sign of frustration.
3. Drumming fingers – this can mean we are thinking about something else.
4. Clicking pens – people often don’t realise they are doing it.
5. Rolling eyes – our bodies may be trapped in the meeting and our souls fly free!

Great leaders keep people interested. They notice agitation and gently inquire what is going on for the person, or use it as a cue to take a break or finish the meeting. Agitation is information and we can spot it and decide how to respond thoughtfully.

Have fun this week, watching out for tapping toes in boring business meetings!

Next week: Valuing Our Archive


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