If you do, you're not alone. The truth is, everyone does - though each of us have our own personal struggles.
As an introvert, my personal struggle has been dealing with the human element. I still find that challenging at times, but over the last twenty years I've discovered a lot of strategies to make that easier.
The key realisation is that there are two aspects to any interaction that can cause problems. The first is the personal element. Is listening a struggle? What about asking questions? Most of us spend time focusing on that - if we consider it at all.
But the second element is just as important - perhaps more. This is extra-personal - in the sense that it's not necessarily to do with you. You see, if you're finding a meeting challenging, maybe the issue is the meeting itself.
To work out if that's the case, there's two questions you need to answer:
- Should you be at the meeting?
- Can the meeting succeed?
If the answer to either of those questions is negative, then no amount of personal soul-searching will help you. The meeting will most likely be painful, frustrating, and a complete waste of your time. And unless you realise the problem is the meeting, you'll probably think the problem is you.
Those questions tie together. The next time you receive a meeting invite, work out for yourself:
- Is the meeting the best use of your time?
- Do you have to go? Just because you were invited doesn't make the answer 'yes'.
- Do you want to go?
- Whether the meeting can succeed - does it have a clear purpose, the right people and the right approach?
Once you decide to go, then you need to consider what you can do to make the meeting successful for you.
There are strategies, frameworks and decision schemas that can help with each of those questions.
Here's one. We call it the Axiom of Don'ting: think first to drop, the defer, next delegate and finally do.
So, if the meeting is not the best use of your time, don't go unless you have to. And the times when you have to are not as frequent as you might think.
Once you take care of the extra-personal issues, you can then focus on being your best. What struggles do you face at meetings?