Office meetings that feature discussions about obviously mediocre products can dumb you down considerably instead of stimulate the right neurons inside that watery matter you know better as your brain. Why this is so sometimes can be attributed to the following unfortunate facts:
- The company’s product is a mediocre product pretending to be a superior product.
- You have a stubborn boss secretly paranoid about it.
- Your colleagues choose to play it safe.
- You keep adjusting your thinking at the moment to all of the above.
This is the kind of meeting you find in corporate hell and this will give you a king-size headache. The product is a retail disaster waiting to happen and this meeting is some sort of a ruse to justify a faulty business premise. Someone among the higher ups and the product development team would want to democratize the blame in the event of a retail fiasco. If you’re the marketing guy in the meeting, this is the scenario where everybody else wants the blame to be pinned on you when the product flops.
You may have gone through such an excruciating ordeal before and how you wish you wouldn’t ever again. If only you knew a way to avoid such now and in the future. You can opt to take a break from dumbing down your way of thinking by readjusting the setting back up to logical and objective mode. You can try to crawl yourself out of a company meeting foxhole situation by launching a question counter-attack. Make sure you explain why you’re asking too many questions first so you don’t step on too many toes. Ask politely. The benefits you will be enjoying as you go ask away are the following:
- The can of worms revealed. Sensible questions about mediocre products are bound to elicit lame answers that are sure to be followed by more lame excuses. Answers that provoke more questions are called “can of worms”. Bait that catches stupid fish. Ask more sensible questions as you can until it comes to a point that all stupid fish rationalizations from everybody else begins to make the meeting sound like a farce.
- Rebooted systems. If you need to dignify a lame answer by matching it with a stupid question, do so. It will illustrate the brainlessness of the discussion premise. It gives you the chance to emphasize the possible repercussions carrying on with inferior product retail may potentially have on the brand. This diverts the issue to more intelligent discussions and can have the ability to “reboot” thinking systems among those in attendance.
- Confirm the reason for paranoia. A stubborn boss is usually one with a serious case of business paranoia. Especially those fond of holding meetings so irrationally often that everybody else hardly gets any work done. Paranoid bosses view meetings as sounding board sessions instead of professional idea exchange where faulty decision-making pleads validation from lower ranks. The classic emperor’s new clothes situation. Stand your ground. Allow your objectivity to confirm his self-inflicted paranoia. The rule here is to never censor yourself to comfort anybody else’s ignorance or bullheadedness.
- Pass the grill chores. If you can, try herding the discussion in such a direction that will force those playing it safe to begin asking questions. Pass the grill chores to them. Meatpuppets and yes men in meetings serve no real purpose and always take the easy way out. Do not let them. Force them to examine things much closer. Ask them to ask themselves the same questions you did a while ago. Pull them out of their comfort zones. Doing so makes them vulnerable to revealing their real apprehensions.
Office meetings are supposed to be occasion for breakthrough moments that enable professional symbiosis, happy compromises and efficient group dynamics. Dumbing yourself down during meetings is the worst kind of disservice any worker can ever come up with. Professionals like all good teamplayers, thrive on shared breakthrough moments.
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