General Business

Just Answer The Question Already!

I’ve already been in four or five meetings this week that went way too long (and longer than scheduled) as a result of one, simple problem; at least one person involved in each meeting was incapable of answering a question without retelling the history of everything that led up to that point and, sometimes, forecasting the future of everything to happen from that point on.  Virtually every time this happened, someone else in the meeting either lost patience (often me) and cut the speaker off or abruptly asked them what, in fact, was the answer to their original question.  To no avail.  The behavior persisted.  I suppose it’s a style thing.  One that drives me up a wall.

Hey, if you’re giving a presentation and you’re working within the allotted time, go for it.  Talk about how your kid did at her piano recital that week or the status of the fungus growing on your toenails.  People in your audience may not like it but, sometimes, weaving a tale creates the groundwork for the best presentations.  And, if you’re within the scheduled time, the audience is likely to give you some latitude – especially if you’re entertaining.  If, however, an interactive discussion is taking place, say your piece – precisely – and relinquish the floor.  Filibusters are not allowed in business conversations.  They waste everyone’s time and I can promise you, will eventually get you killed.

It certainly doesn’t have to get to just “yes” and “no” (although sometimes, those are perfect answers), but you have to get to the point quickly.  Otherwise, the people around the table will stop caring what your answer is and will focus more on how annoying you are than the point you’re trying to make. 

Brevity is highly underrated.

10 Comments

  1. You don’t mean killed, you mean fired. Not everyone is familiar with colorful business terminology.

  2. You don’t mean killed, you mean fired. Not everyone is familiar with colorful business terminology.

  3. Dave,

    No, I meant killed. In several of these meetings, I don’t have the authority to fire the offending person. I suppose if it was an option, though, firing would be more appropriate and, more likely, legal. Although I hardly think a jury would hold me responsible. 🙂

  4. Dave,

    No, I meant killed. In several of these meetings, I don’t have the authority to fire the offending person. I suppose if it was an option, though, firing would be more appropriate and, more likely, legal. Although I hardly think a jury would hold me responsible. 🙂

  5. Just trying to protect you from the FBI bots.

    Here is a better suggestion. Carry a roll of duct tape with you to meetings. When someone gets out of hand, cut off a mouth-sized segment of tape and hand it to the guy sitting next to him, and point to the talker with one hand and your mouth with the other.

  6. Just trying to protect you from the FBI bots.

    Here is a better suggestion. Carry a roll of duct tape with you to meetings. When someone gets out of hand, cut off a mouth-sized segment of tape and hand it to the guy sitting next to him, and point to the talker with one hand and your mouth with the other.

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