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Meetings... Bloody Meetings!

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Searching for the Holy Grail led to Meetings, Bloody Meetings

If you haven’t seen the 1976 award-winning version of “Meetings, Bloody Meetings,” it is a classic. The points are ever so simple, humorous, and right on target.

Cleese: Key Meeting Effectiveness Points

  • Plan meetings in advance

  • Prepare a detailed agenda

  • Pre-notify attendees

  • Control the discussion

  • Summarize and record decisions

So, What’s New?

Someone is hijacking our meetings. Someone that Cleese didn’t know about, didn’t understand.

What if you knew that people were taking a pill before meetings that clearly diminished their mental skills, their intellect in areas of learning, logical reasoning, abstract thought, problem solving, and creativity? What if they didn’t even need a pill to do this but just voluntarily gave up all that brainpower as they entered the meeting? As a leader, you would take swift action to stop whatever it was, wouldn’t you?

No, it isn’t aliens, Russians, or zombies that have created such a nightmare. It is our “smart” phones. And it isn’t by accident. Smartphones are designed to access our attention by combining all the desirable aspects of our social networks, a TV, a radio, multiple photograph albums, libraries, museums, film studios, game rooms, and more. Our brains cannot handle the distraction – can’t even handle the prospect of such powerful and desirable alternatives so close at hand.

Just having our phones visible seems to be enough of a tug on the mind to divert our attention. Dr. Adrian Ward, a psychologist and marketing professor at the University of Texas has concluded from a decade of research that not just using a smartphone creates the distraction, but even hearing one ring or vibrate leads our brains astray. Some studies found that when a phone makes any noise whatever during a difficult task, people lose focus and their work becomes less accurate. Another study revealed that when people heard their phone ring but were unable to answer it, their blood pressure would rise, pulse quicken, and problems solving skill decline. Even when turned off, the mere physical appearance of our phone promises so much entertainment and delightful control over information that our brains respond – yes, that’s right, even when the phone is off.

What is the answer?

How do we recover control of our meetings and important conversations? Sadly, the answer is simple but difficult.

Numerous studies showed that the only action that successfully prevented hijacking of the conscious mind and the radical debilitating of mental skills was to convince the brain that the phone is not there and cannot be accessed. Focused discipline is the only answer. Like with the ACT, create rules that work, that help people overcome the amazing power of the phone.

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