Do you spend a lot of time at work on conference calls?
If so here’s a checklist of 7 questions to ask yourself when it’s over.
Why? Because the lack of face to face contact can be a serious productivity killer and cause the time scheduled to become a vacuous cavern of emptiness. You may have been unwittingly sucked into behaving in a dysfunctional way that some people see as the norm when donning a headset.
You wouldn’t want to accidentally doze off, have a colleague take a photo and post it on Facebook now would you…? (in my defence this was taken about 4 years ago and I’m sure I had a simply awful cold at the time)
Apply the annoying ‘this call may be recorded for training purposes’ message to yourself and ask these questions, answer them with honesty and integrity, and then move on with your life in the knowledge that the next call will be more productive, if you even decide to join that is…
1. Did you contribute?
If you had no role in helping to prepare for the meeting, didn’t get assigned any actions, or said nothing during the meeting then you were simply a passenger. What was the point in that?
2. Were you paying attention?
If you drafted an email, responded to an instant message, checked your phone, picked your nose and wiped it on the chair or browsed the internet at any point then the answer is no. If you were face to face would you have done that? (If then answer is yes then shit me, you are way beyond dysfunctional…)
3. Were you really listening properly?
This is different to 2. Even if you did none of the things outlined above were you truly focused? Did you notice if the others voices changed when a certain topic came up or a certain person spoke? Was the energy of the meeting consistent? Could you sense any tension, or how well people knew each other?
If you were an active participant then how about these…
4. How did you physically feel during the call?
If your breathing short and shallow vs. deep and slow what does that tell you? Were you lounging back in your chair or pacing around the room? Why? Think about what was being discussed that caused it.
5. Were you being a dick?
If you dismissed someone else’s comments, spoke over someone, were rude about something someone had done before, or spread gossip then yes, you were indeed being a dick.
6. Was it a conversation or a lecture?
The name ‘conference call’ suggests that there should be some conferring going on somewhere. If there were there moments where you paused to encourage input from others, nice one. If you didn’t then how do you know if questions 2 or 3 applied to the other participants? (Clue: Snoring is usually a good indicator)
7. Did you use unnecessary words?
Think about how you could have been clearer or more articulate. It’s easy to talk and it’s really easy to talk shit, but remember the rule that if you’ve got nothing to say, then don’t. If you spoke simply to ensure people knew you were on the call, then you not only wasted your own time but other people’s too.
Next time you get off a conference call use this to decide what to do next time round. You can free up your day by saying no to them and these questions may help you to decide whether to ditch one, many or none from your diary.
Life is short. Why waste minutes / hours / days with your headset on pretending to be doing something useful when in fact you are doing sweet F.A.?