Did you know your coworkers are stealing something valuable from you every day?
Mindless Accept Syndrome
If you’re in a typical office environment, this is probably a familiar scenario: You’re sitting at your desk, and a meeting invitation pops up. It’s from a coworker you vaguely know, about a project you’ve heard about. There’s no content stating why you specifically have been invited to this meeting, and there’s no agenda attached. Just an invitation with words that look familiar… So you instinctively click “accept” and go to the meeting.
Two hours later, you’ve listened to this coworker stammer through a scribbled list of status updates, while pretending to have an agenda of sorts. In the meantime, you’ve eaten more doughnuts than anyone ever should.
Your time is valuable, and poorly planned meetings that you don’t need to attend are stealing time away from your work.
Collaboration is an essential component to any successful organization, and meetings are part of that. David Grady, the PR professional behind a popular YouTube parody of conference calls gone wrong, has coined the term MAS: Mindless Accept Syndrome. We mindlessly accept meeting invitations without really questioning the purpose. It’s a social reflex, and we’re making ourselves miserable by not questioning our instincts.
Check out David Grady’s “The Conference Call“:
Grady’s video has over a million hits, with viewers in dozens of countries leaving comments like “That was my day every day!” or “This is my life.” This problem of mindless meetings is global, and it affects every industry. All too often, employees feel powerless. Isn’t it just part of office life that you have to suffer through pointless meetings?
And therein lies the solution. We don’t NEED to suffer. There’s an incredibly liberating button sitting there in the meeting invitation: it’s usually titled “Tentative”.
We’re all hesitant to click the “decline” button, but “maybe” opens up a world of possibilities. As simple as it seems, the ability to question your presence at a meeting and ask the meeting leader what will be covered gives you more control.
In his recent TEDtalk, David Grady suggests, “Get in touch with the person who asked you to the meeting. Tell them you’re very excited to support their work, ask them what the goal of the meeting is, and tell them you’re interested in learning how you can help them achieve their goal. And if we do this often enough, and we do it respectfully, people might start to be a little bit more thoughtful about the way they put together meeting invitations. And you can make more thoughtful decisions about accepting it. People might actually start sending out agendas. Imagine!”
Take Control Of Your Schedule
So say “¡No MAS!” to Mindless Accept Syndrome. Don’t be afraid to question meetings. Changing your behavior can propel positive change throughout your organization, and make everyone more productive!