Meetings after meetings, they seem to last forever.
No agenda, no duration announced in advance. This prompted me to circulate a book on how to pitch one’s idea in 1 minute – I also need to learn how to do this too, especially in Japanese.
So I leave some 2 hours in between my appointments.
I also hold meetings like this one.
Normally the message should have been conveyed in 20 minutes or less. My presentation was pitched within 10 minutes.
We still got out 1.5h later.
That meeting felt surreal. I said what I wanted to say. Then we went around a point that I had clarified, and I was having an out of body experience observing the people express themselves for a while. For a long while. Finally, the spiral closed in closer and closer and they talked themselves into what I was saying in the first place, about 1.25h after I made the same point. Somehow though, it was not exactly mansplaining (yes, I was the only woman there). Maybe I had not burdened anyone with expectations of any kind. Maybe I was even setting lower expectations than when I was living in the “West”. I did not at all feel the urge to put a lid on the kind of frustration or anger that used to be at the brink of boiling over nearly every day after many years in the States. It felt like a good group therapy session where everyone who came with a preconception, was giving themselves the luxury of chewing on the idea for an hour, by verbalising, coming around to understand the message, to internalise it, to make it their own, and to hear themselves say what they understood.
It is one way to accept things. We all need to translate what we hear into our own words. And this takes time.
The next meeting was only 30 minutes over the announced meeting length, 30 minutes less than the last meeting. Although I felt exacerbated that it was taking longer than my plan, at the same time, I was happy that I could throw the apple, and each person took the apple and ran with it. They clearly and proudly stated their opinion, in front of their superior, who would be more than happy to represent all of our voices without really hearing everyone out. This was people’s voices rising above silence.
This was something to celebrate.
On a roll, or because this is the only way I know how to bring disparate groups of opinions together to have a productive conflict, I called a big brainstorming meeting with 16 people at the end of this week. Brainstorming is not a familiar exercise for many. There will be several layers of the organisation present. In preparation, I announced the agenda this morning by email.
I am either brave, or just plain silly – but here I go. It reminds me of (tandem) paragliding: plunging into the abyss, hoping my steering is good enough that we will ride the current and rise above the horizon.
(image from Adrenaline Hunter)