Thursday, August 30, 2007

Random Observations from Meetings

I've been spending way too much time in meetings this past week. I'm pretty good at meetings where we're trying to do a fairly specific task. I can focus well and all. I'm less good at meetings where we discuss things, even though I think the topic of discussion is really important. I lose focus, get impatient and such.

Some of these are disguised slightly. But the basics are there.

Why is it that some people are always five to ten minutes late to a committee meeting, not because they're rushing from something else, but because they're standing outside the office talking to someone? I need to learn not to take the lateness personally, especially when I'm chair, because it's not personal, just a timing thing some folks have. (I'm sort of obsessive about being on time for meetings and such, though not necessarily about other things.)

Why is it that the person talking most about the importance of interpersonal relations and sensitivity is also the person who regularly stomps on other peoples' feelings in public?

Why is it that the person complaining loudly about helicopter parents is also the person who has to leave campus by 3:30 pm to be at home when her teenager gets home from school? And why is a married woman bragging that her (also faculty) husband "babysits" sometimes?

(To be honest, I'm very torn about dealing with other peoples' parenting issues. I respect the responsibility that comes with parenting. I think we should have good, affordable child care on campus for students, staff, and faculty. But I don't want to have to schedule meetings to accomodate child care issues, nor do I think child care issues should always trump other issues.)

Why are we renting a "Men's Club" hall to have a meeting where we discuss privilege and diversity? Why do some people give us dirty looks when several of us mention that there are a lot of dead animals on the walls. And why is one of the dead animal parts on the wall the rearend of a deer with his/her tail raised? (I didn't climb on a chair to get a really good look.)

I worry when a person I respect as intelligent and able can't seem to take meeting notes without stopping us every few minutes to go back over something, repeatedly. Best case scenario, lack of sleep or something. Worst case? Way worse.

Some people always have to talk even if their baileywick has nothing to do with the topic under discussion. I fear becoming one of those people. I worry that people will think I'm over the edge because I bring up some issue more than once.

(People think I'm over the edge because I ride my bike around. I also sing to my bike when I make it up a hill or something. "Oooo, you make me sing, whatever this world can give to me, Oooo, you make me ride now, bikey, ooo you make me sing! Your my best bike!" What? Why are you looking at me like that?)

When I got home this evening and looked out over the deck, I realized that my deck planter plants looked pretty darned sad. They get dry fast, especially the sunflowers. I watered, and an hour and a half later, they're all looking much better. Plants can be amazing that way! Go go sunflowers!

Edited to add one last thing: We have a committee basically called something like the Contra-Obfuscation Collective. Yeah. COC. Speak Acronym!


  1. "Why is it that the person talking most about the importance of interpersonal relations and sensitivity is also the person who regularly stomps on other peoples' feelings in public?"

    Yes. Just . . . yes.

  2. Why is it that the person who always comes in 10 minutes late because of a hallway conversation then disrupts the meeting with questions about what we just covered, hence slowing down the meeting even more?

  3. How can fathers "babysit" their own offspring? I so hear you on this one.

  4. Undine, It's scary how common that is!

    Dorothy W, Because that person is the center of his/her universe?

    TD, It's a mystery to me!