Why review a book covering meetings on a blog about coaching? Two reasons really.
Firstly, if you’re coaching in an organisational context, much of your coachees’ precious time will be spent in meetings. When run badly, meetings can seem to be a waste of that irreplaceable resource, and cause a great deal of disillusionment.
Secondly, the book in question is so much more than a simple rehash of meeting tips and tricks. In How to Manage Meetings, Alan Barker packs within a surprisingly few pages insights into significant features of meetings we don’t normally think enough about.
Imagine your first conversation with a new coachee… The ‘problem’ is said to be low Emotional Intelligence. According to your coachee, he or she’s been described as having a distinct lack of empathy for others and a tendency to be overly blunt in interactions with work colleagues. The coachee now doubts him or herself, is wary of interpersonal interaction for fear of being perceived as overbearing and rude, and wants help with this chronic ‘rudeness’ in order to improve his or her chances of moving into management.
Looks like an open and shut case? Let’s not be too hasty. Before we as coaches unthinkingly accept the story at face value, decide this ‘rudeness’ is ‘wrong’, and allow ourselves to fall into thinking of ways to assist the coachee with anger management or improve sensitivity to the feelings and needs of others, do we need to stand back and take a deep breath? Might there be a missing ingredient in the scenario described above?
What if ‘being rude’ in this case was not actually ‘being rude’ at all? What if, rather than being chronically rude, our coachee has been grappling with the difficulties of adjusting to the communication norms of a different culture?