Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Important Meeting

Meetings can be important. They can be overwhelming. Meetings can help solidify relationships in the workplace. They can serve as distractions from what some of us see as the "real" job. This is about how I sometimes experience meetings at work.


  1. Wow Bev...

    These videos absolutely floor me every time. You're so spot on.

    This is me. Seriously me. I really do need about 5 prompts to get me to go to meeting. I do draw there (I should probably post some of my "meeting notes").

    I do participate when it's useful but most of the time I wait until it's over in silence. I don't know if I come over as "rude" - if so, I'll have to work on hiding it better.

    These days, my colleagues hold a lot of important meetings in my office. It's easier for them to come to me for input rather than to drag me to a waste of time meeting.

    I've got some nice co-workers in that regard.

  2. This video is frightening to me.

  3. I have been to this meeting. I work with these people. They look different, but they are the SAME.

    Great job on this one, it really captures what it feels like to be trapped in one of these.

  4. These people are hilarious. More videos please!

  5. Rule: do not attend meetings unless data will be presented.

    Once the data have been presented and discussed, leave. Things will only go downhill.

  6. I continue to be amazed at what really good sports your co-workers are for pretending to be so dense for the sake of your video parodies! :-)

    What *is* mylar anyway? (Am too lazy to google it .... )

    It can feel a little bit like this -- not exactly like this but sort of in the same neighborhood if that makes sense -- to be a deaf person at a meeting among non-signing hearing people without the assistance of a sign language interpreter, CART, or other adequate communication accommodation. People speak in mysterious mumble-jumble-ish. And once in a while someone laughs for no reason that can be easily discerned from the limited communication content that is actually accessible. People talk some more, and laugh some more, still quite mysteriously. The meeting drags on for what feels like an eternity.

    As someone with attention deficit disorder, I don't always absorb all the nuances even when I am at a meeting in which everyone signs because I may get distracted by an off-topic thought stream at odd moments during the meeting. But I lose even more content at a hearing meeting when I have to rely on a sign lang. interpreter. And of course am completely lost if I am forced to attend a discussion without sign language or CART all.

    (I forget what CART stands for, but basically its a live transcription service in which someone uses special computer equipment with special short hand to do live captioning of what everyone says--of course usually a couple of beats behind but near enough.)

  7. Andrea S.,

    They will be pleased to hear you thought they were pretending! Mylar is some shiny stuff they make balloons out of (I don't remember.)


    Ah, I wish I could get away with that. It would get me out of about 90% of the meetings. After this last one I am considering a two balloon-mention limit.


    Thanks very much! My coworkers try that too (gathering in my office) but I absolutely can't stand it. It's really hard to get up and walk out of there...easier in a neutral area.

  8. What *is* mylar anyway? (Am too lazy to google it .... )

    "Mylar" is just a trade name for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film stretched in a certain way. It's all over the place. The clear or white plastic cover under the lid of many yoghurt containers, for instance. The clear plastic on microwave frozen meals of the sort where you don't have to take the plastic all the way off before you heat them. Overhead transparency cells, X-ray films, archival envelopes for document preservation. It has a particular hard texture which you can easily come to recognize (it is notably crystalline. And maybe your sensory whatevers don't run the way mine do and you won't immediately feel how it's hard and not warm or cool nor sticky as other plastics are) though when it's got, as it often does, a thin coating of aluminium it is harder.

    Mylar is heat resistant, very stable, and impermeable to most gasses. Weather balloons are made of it. The person in the video is exaggerating that it will 'last forever' but it will hold air or helium for a lot longer than latex balloons, which are really quite porous, will. 'Mylar' balloons that you can get in party supply places are not actually made of mylar, but of a nylon sheeting that's stretched and crystalline and is very similar, and coated in a thin layer of aluminium too. Practically indistinguishable from a 'space blanket' emergency blanket, which really is made of mylar. Either material is excellent for making kites.

    Don't blame me. You asked. :)

    1. Don't tell me. You work in Space Technology too? xD

      Most people will look at you with a look of a deer in the headlights when you say "space blanket". It's that really thin golden thermally resistant stuff that we put on satellites. It helps enable better thermal distribution and lesser thermal contrasts within the spacecraft. xD

  9. Bev, thanks for this vid.

    I'm deeply afraid this is precisely how my 1st grader experiences school in his mainstream classroom. (He has a full-time aid/shadow.) I'm honestly deeply torn about how to interpret his expressed dislike for his teacher who "makes me do work."

    Were this my NT younger son, I'd probably tell him to suck it up and get back to work, (it's first grade!) but I'm afraid this may be something deeper than just being forced to complete non-preferred assignments, perhaps a complete feeling of being overwhelmed by the classroom, but I'm not sure how to squeeze the truth from the situation. Pressing him for details would be counterproductive, and he doesn't expand on his complaints when I just listen. Any advice?

    On your situation, would a "virtual" meeting work better for you?

    I've worked in several offices which have tried to hold meetings via live web chat, partly so we'd have a written record of what was discussed, and partly just to see if we could have a productive meeting via chat.

    (Consensus was always, "yeah, but the boss likes to see everybody, and we're already here" so the experiment was disbanded every time.)

    That said, if the format would work better for you, throw it out there. Your coworkers seem game for quite a bit.


    1. It's like most of my bosses' attitudes against telecommuting: "I want to see your face" ...even if it involves 45 minute of commuting each way and plenty other distractions. Whatever!

  10. Grafton,


    Can I retract the question, then? LOL!

    Thanks for the explanation!

  11. Thanks for this Bev....like benandCoopersdad I too can see how my son can have the same experiences in the classroom. And thanks to your videos I can be more aware of how things may be for him when he is eventually in the workforce. I will be following your blog with renewed interest;)) xx Jazzy

  12. That was very interesting. I can relate in that so many meetings in jobs are so totally worthless and yet some people think they are the end all be all.

    Your videos are awesome and help me see things in a new light.

  13. Bev,

    That seems like a very good reason to avoid working in an environment where such meetings are part of the job. It just makes freelancing look that much better!


    "Were this my NT younger son, I'd probably tell him to suck it up and get back to work, (it's first grade!) but I'm afraid this may be something deeper than just being forced to complete non-preferred assignments, perhaps a complete feeling of being overwhelmed by the classroom, but I'm not sure how to squeeze the truth from the situation."

    To answer this, consider how your child responds to homework at home. If he doesn't get assigned homework, ask for a duplicate of something he did at school. Be the aide, so to speak, and keep him on task. How does he respond?

    I've had the same complaints from my oldest son. Getting him to do his school work is like pulling teeth. He has two part-time aides. One has been with him since Early Childhood (he's in 5th grade now) and is very good at keeping him on task. And that upsets him a great deal. At first, we were concerned that maybe this person wasn't right for him. But, with reports from several different observers, the thing of it is that she keeps him working. She recognizes when he needs a sensory break, and when he just doesn't want to work. She's able to get quite a bit more work and higher quality work and more independent work out of him than either his other aide or we (his parents) are. He doesn't like that, but he does need that.

    Each child is different. Your child may be responding for totally different reasons. The way to find out, without needing an answer from him, is to try the problem (in this case, making him do work) in a variety of settings with different people. You can also ask for an independent observer to watch what happens in the classroom (though, observation effects are an issue). Or ask if he can try doing his work in another setting to see if that improves the situation (like doing math in a room that's not being used).

  14. Why didn't they just say the meeting was about baloons, geez. Then you would have known it was important.

    Great video.

  15. That video was hilarious and spot on.

    When I used to work in an office, I got so overwhelmed by the meetings that I told my boss I was going to go nuts if I had to go through any more of them. He said, "Why don't you start facilitating them? You can set the agenda, set up ground rules, and make sure the conversation stays on point." Basically, he gave me control of the weekly departmental meetings. I got to set the pace, to tell people to be quiet if they went on for too long, and to give quieter people a chance to speak. It was heaven! (I mean, as close to heaven as a meeting can be, which is not all that close, actually.)

    We also had a 59:59 limit. If the meeting threatened to go past an hour, we could extend it by ten minute intervals, but only by unanimous vote, each time. Hardly ever happened.

  16. We have a guy where I work work who is probably autistic. We call him Flipper. He sits way, way back in his chair and when he gets agitated he flips over, chair and all. Sometimes he's talking on the phone when he goes over and he keeps right on talking as he lies on the floor then stands up, rights his chair and sits down again. The caller, I imagine, hears "Arrgh! Oh Shit!" followed by a thud and more cursing.
    He's been warned many times but he just keeps flipping. They took the wheels off of his chair once but he went ballistic and started throwing things. Files, potted plants, pictures from people's desks, his own shoes, whatever he could get his hands on, he threw while he kept up a steady stream of cursing and weeping. Maintenance, a guy named Jose but he is referred to simply as "Maintenance,"put the wheels back and peace was restored.
    Flipper has a weird hair style. I can't even describe it. It's sort of pointy on top. He looks like a character from a Seuss book. He has two shirts and two pairs of pants. Also a knitted vest with a dolphin on the front. On his feet he wears what we used to call Chukka Boots when I was in high school.
    Everyone is afraid of Flipper. He's spooky and belligerent. My coworkers and I imagine that he'll come in one day with an AK-47 and just start blasting. He called me a "tit-knocker" once (I'm female.) I have no idea what he mean by that. It was when I got the last pack of Twizzlers from the candy machine and I refused to give it to him. He tried to grab them out of my hand and I had to call security.
    The VERY scary part is that we work in a law office. I'm an attorney and Flipper is a paralegal. Why he hasn't been fired is a deep and cloudy mystery.

  17. It's really spot on xD. My last meeting went almost exactly like this (except it was not "balloons", but some stupid rumors about someone else). Even the drawing thing ! I drew so many "triforce" symbols during my last meeting xD.

    It was like "10 minutes of productivity" and "50 minutes of nothing", it's so frustrating !

    I don't get why NTs seem to love talking about the same issue again and again without actually trying to resolve it immediatly. They also seem to love talking about irrelevant things during the meeting.

    I mean... I just want this thing to be over, i don't want to hear about what you've heard about someone else...


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