Zip It (in meetings)!

December 23, 2018

Quick tip today. If you are a senior person in a meeting, answering lots of questions, offering loads of great advice, then try shutting up! You are talking too much and hurting other people more junior/introverted that you. Instead, show leadership by listening and empathising. This is the way forward. Sure, there is a time and a place for your knowledge and experience. But always giving advice, offering help and opinions, is short-termism. It damages those around you, leading them to depend on, or switch off from you.

On a work call the other day I was the only one remote. The webcam was looking down from a high vantage point at the room in the office. There were ten people in the room, yet I observed only three talking. This was a classic display. To make it even worse, those three (seniors) were talking over each other, one-upping each other. All around them, heads were dropping. People started playing with their pens, grabbing sneaky glances at their phones, disengaging. Yet the three talkers were oblivious.

Their brilliant ideas, their smart suggestions were hurting others around them. Suffocating them word by word. Sure, it feels good; you think you are being constructive. In reality, all you are doing is feeding your ego and taking the easy choice. The harder, slower but more rewarding route is to “Zip It!”

Zip It!Zip It!

I play a fun game with my three-year-old (inspired by Dr. Evil). If I am talking/boring him about something he will shout “Zip It” and I must close my mouth (much to his delight). If I talk again too soon for his liking, he will shout “Zip it” again. Only when he gets bored or distracted by something else, can I talk.

In meetings, I have played this game with myself. When I have the urge to talk or present some solution, I shout inside my head “Zip It”! The resulting silence invites people in the room to reflect. With reflection comes learning and original ideas. And best of all these ideas can come from unexpected sources.