What We Hate About Meetings

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Meetings, meetings, meetings. Some days, like yesterday, I feel like my day begins and ends in meetings. And I’m not even a manager.

I meet sources to hear about their new book or research or business; editors to bounce around story ideas; colleagues to grouse about all the freaking meetings. Yesterday I even met with two nice lady entrepreneurs who flew up from North Carolina to grill me on the cremation industry (being that I am an expert).

Funny thing was, when I was sick and working from home, the thing I missed was meetings. At least, I thought it was funny. I did this whole bit about it for an NPR anchor who was doing a segment on the unexpected aspects of working from home. She never aired it. I think she thought my meds had side effects involving delusion. Because everybody, I mean everybody, hates meetings.

What is it we hate most? According to Opinion Research USA’s “Ouch Point” survey, a “new monthly study examining tolerance thresholds in a variety of common scenarios facing Americans in both their professional and personal lives,” it’s disorganization. Below, the top 10 things we hate about meetings:

1. Disorganized, rambling meetings: 27%

2. People who interrupt peers and try to dominate the meeting: 17%
3. Cell phone interruptions: 16%
4. People who fall asleep in meetings: 9%
5. Meetings with no bathroom breaks: 8%
6. Long meetings without refreshments: 6%
7. People leaving early or arriving late: 5%
8. People who check their Blackberries during meetings: 5%
9. Meetings starting late: 4%
10. No written recap of the meeting outcomes: 4%

That last point is interesting. It gets me to think: do most meetings lack a point? If so, why meet? Why hasn’t someone come up with a drug that lets you be at a meeting but also shopping for groceries? Are there meetings in heaven? Or hell?