Nod-in: the nemesis of buy-in

Meetings. More meetings. Many more meetings. This is what many of us see when we take a glance out our diaries. It’s a daily drudge. The endless stream of back-to-back meetings is the bane of corporate existence. It’s a wonder we get any work done! It’s also not surprising that the new coping technique that most meeting attendees employee is called “nod-in”.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. Why? Because, if you had to be honest, you know that you employ the technique yourself …

The scene is a common one: a meeting is started (once everyone has arrived); if you’re fortunate to have someone with high levels of emotional intelligence you will do a check-in (which is inevitably quite quick as no-one wants to be totally honest about how they are really doing, never mind how miffed they are to be in the meeting); someone asks, “So, why are we here?”; the monkey who sent out the meeting invite will then revisit everything that was said in the invite (that no-one read); additional discussion items will be debated; and then with 20 minutes left of the scheduled meeting time, 60-minutes worth of debate will be squeezed in somehow. It is at this point that Nod-In enters the room and does his utmost best to limit debate, fake attention and ensure that no real discussion is entered into.

In the face of this monotonous routine, is it any wonder we get adept at nodding-in at meetings? It’s really a pseudo buy-in – a time and energy saver. We would all like high levels of buy-in at our meetings – that is how great work is achieved after all! The reality in our organisations though is that the corporate meeting culture creates more nodding-in than buy-in. And so, you end up nodding agreement at every debate-shortening comment made. The unmentionable desire everyone feels (except the meeting organiser 😉 is to end the meeting as soon as possible. Nod-in achieves this. We don’t speak about it, but everyone knows what the goal is.

The true corporate hero is the one who can nod-in the quickest and with the most impressive impersonation of Buy-In. Woe is the fool who actually buys-in to a meeting and proactively tackles the agenda. Woe to the fool for he is destined to drink coffee alone at tea time. He is the one destined to stand alone on the smoker’s balcony.

Corporate life would be much simpler if HR could screen out potential meeting buy-in junkies through the recruitment process.

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