When I read this word ‘meeting’ immediately three things or three ‘Cs’ come to my mind i.e. Connotation, Context, Content.
Connotation of the word used;
Context in which the word ‘meeting’ is used or to be more precise context of the meeting;
Content i.e. the purpose or intention or meaning of the meeting.
This leads us easily to or rather quickly to know that the problem is not with the ‘meeting’ itself.
The problem is with what it referred to? Or what meaningfulness is impregnated to the event called ‘meeting’ sometimes also referred to as conference, seminar, brainstorming session and so on?
Here we are obliged to further ensure that the word ‘meeting’ is used in the context of corporate or collective social gathering, otherwise romantic and friendly meetings over the week end and other similar get-togethers are interesting and voluntary.
It definitely means some sort of conventicular gathering to communicate with some common agenda conducted either in real structure or nowadays through virtual electronic media.
There are many components and aspects to meetings but there is one common factor for all those participating in meetings in whatever capacity or position or post. And that is -Time.
So, we need to address and be clear about what is time.
Cliché is Time is money –then it is mere currency- if so, we can get it anyway.
Stereotypical portrayal is Time is life- then it is mere chronology not in our control- if so, what is the use of bothering about it anyway?
Time is mind or mind space that we give to something or someone at certain times depending on the trade off we get out of it; the pleasure we derive out of it; the purpose we need out of it; the enhancement to some aspect of life that we derive out of it; the inevitability of giving it as a matter of fate-without psychologically wanting to -which is the worst scenario as in crisis or calamity or conditions of depravity.
We need to accept the common aspect of all is Time and understand what is really meant by the word Time.
Then, we can work out on all components of a meeting and make it meaningful.
Let us be clear that beyond the inevitable, official and formal requirement or terminology and the following aspects, namely, agenda, intention, purpose, debates, brain storming, conferences, seminars and goal need not necessarily have to be common to all participants in any meeting.
Or even if they do they may mean different things to everyone or at least may have varying degrees or intensities of importance or influence or impact for everyone.
When we take all these into consideration we shall ensure two way or multi-channel communication with clarity and achieve the intended purpose or meaning.
I intentionally refrain from using the words achievement or goal because then it implies that we are a mere tool to cause something and not the part of it either becoming or being part of it.
That does not mean that achievement or goal is not to be wished for or inadequate by themselves, they are undoubtedly motivating posts to be aimed for and attempted.
But when meetings transcend beyond results into mutual and ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ with whatever we do and with whomsoever we do then it is impregnated with more passion, maturity to deal with dispassion and meaningful compassion.
I am reminded of what Sri Sri Ravishankarji of the Art of Living answered spontaneously to a question posed by someone on how to deal with expectations or over expectations, at an event called ThinkEdu16 held at Chennai in Feb 2016
He used just three very effective words. He said, “You definitely need 'Passion' to perform effectively but 'Dispassion' to carry on with shortcomings and failures. He said when you succeed in Passion you enjoy, when you have this 'Dispassion' then you do not 'hate yourself' between these two if you have 'Compassion' then you do not hate or blame others. So he said you need Passion, Dispassion and Compassion -all the three.”
Life in general is defined and determined to a great extent by how we relate with ourselves, other people, events, activities, ideas, emotions, choices, decisions, things, ideals, thoughts and so on.
But primarily there must be at least some sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ and not a mere remote wish or dry proposal without any relationship.
When this sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ is created then that by itself generates greater involvement and commitment beyond externally enforced motivational materials and speeches.
That’s why we see people toil hard and carve for ideological identities and emotionally appealing activities more than they do for work or job or employment that they are paid for and because of which they eke out a living.
That’s why people never allow schooling to restrict their learning or office to interfere with their other works.
Still better when this sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ becomes a sort of habitual environment then the communication itself graduates being merely from brain to brain, goes beyond heart to heart but settles as heart to heart beat.
Therefore, when a conducive atmosphere involving this sort of ‘mental space time imbued relationship’ exists meetings cease to be boring and instead an eagerly looked forward event.
Novelist Sinclair Lewis started a lecture to a group of college students with: “How many of you really intend to be writers?” All raised their hands. Then he continued thus, “In that case, there is no point in my talking. My advice to you is: go home and write, write, write….” With that, he put back his notes in his pocket and left.
With a quote of Swami Vivekananda, “It is our mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. The whole world is in our minds”, let me end now and discuss about how to make meetings meaningful and less boring later on.
I would like to share some links which I feel are relevant to some aspects of meetings discussed above including factors to make them more interesting.
Every relationship is a many faceted splendor and all the facets together contribute to the splendor, whether it is with persons, books, movies, any art, music, culture, tradition, gadgets, environment, vehicles or anything.
The splendor is revealed depending on what lights we use to see these facets. The bright lights are good attitudes, adjustments, aesthetic appreciation, compromises, collaborations, co-operation, contentment etc and the dark lights are confrontations, control and command mode behavior patterns, ego generated competing, manipulations, scheming, politicizing, hidden agenda, simmering discontent, lurking suspicions, ulterior motives, ingratitude etc etc