By remaining in a field-going position, I manage to avoid most meetings, but there are times when they are unavoidable. When this happens, I sometimes amuse myself by observing how the cast of characters never really changes, even if the actual people are different. Here are a few of the regular players:
The pot stirrer: This person is mostly silent, and rarely engages. However, out of the blue he will suddenly speak up, usually on an issue that everyone has mostly agreed how to resolve. He will put his two cents in and then sit back and watch the resulting drama unfold. Does he really care about the problem or does he just enjoy watching the show? Nobody really knows, because he rarely speaks again.
The big cheese: She is way too busy and important for your little meeting, but she shows up, at least for awhile. The whole time she is looking at her phone, stepping out to talk to someone, or flipping through paperwork. Finally at a crucial moment she flees, saying she has to get on a conference call. Yet if decisions are made without her, she gets annoyed.
The space case: This person just can't seem to get it together. He shows up late, or has to be rounded up from somewhere he has wandered off to. He's the one who forgets to mute his line, hasn't brought critical documents, or isn't really listening. He's sort of lovable though so nobody really gets mad.
The backstabber: She has all the critical information on an important issue before the meeting, and could easily head your proposal off at the pass, but chooses not to. She has lulled you into complacency by being your buddy, but as the meeting continues, it's clear that a buddy she is not. She crushes your hopes and dreams and makes you look like a buffoon, just because she can.
The folder: This person always has your back, until the chips are down. Then when you look over at him in the meeting, he studiously avoids your eye and says nothing, or sides with the majority. Suddenly you are out on a limb with no backup, and the limb is cracking beneath you.
The subject matter expert: You think you know your stuff going in, but then you get a sinking feeling. There sits the SME with her elephant like memory. "Well, actually..." she corrects you on your faulty facts. You just can't win with the SME, so don't even try.
The overachiever: This person lives and breathes the job. She schedules meetings for Fridays at 4 pm, the week before Christmas. She can't understand why people want to break for lunch, because she's fine with eating a granola bar and continuing. Worse, she likes "working lunches." You can hide out in the bathroom, but she will find you, and volunteer you for a committee.
The reluctant warrior: He would rather be anywhere else. He stares out the window when it's snowing and says, "Powder day!" In fact, his skis are in the car for a quick getaway. If he can get away with it, he will sneak out at lunch, never to return. Reluctant warriors are great to have in your meetings, because they will agree to writing papers and "looking into it" just to be able to leave.
Do these characters seem familiar? Did I miss anyone?