Monday, December 04, 2017

Nattering nabobs, or how 'bout you stop muttering and interrupting so we can finish this meeting?

We've all been there. It's the end of the semester. Meetings are inevitable, but here's a difference:
  • Our campus has a strong culture of announcing agendas, setting a time, and sticking to both. (I've been places where this wasn't true.)
  • When I call the meeting, I am an especially firm believer in upholding campus culture.

Agenda and all relevant documents distributed well ahead of time, and people are gathered in the meeting room. We start right on time. We get through a couple of items. We have time for lively discussion. People make good suggestions. I call for votes.

But there's one thing that isn't running smoothly.

It's not "he-splaining," (h/t xykademiqz in the comments--thanks!).

It's a person who interrupts and talks over me when I'm trying to explain a topic and keeps up a running, muttered commentary, even after I give her--yes, her--ample time to talk. I shut up to let her talk, and she shuts up. As soon as I start talking, she starts again, sometimes to herself and sometimes engaging someone else in the room.  It drives me batty.

I had already let her say all that she wanted to say. We had voted. Then as soon as I went onto the next topic, she started up again. I shut up and asked if she had additional thoughts. She shut up. Then she started again. In the meantime, everyone else is waiting to get on with it.

I'm afraid I pulled out the Terminator Glare and said "If we are all finished discussing X, perhaps we can move to the next item."

This isn't malicious on the natterer's part, I don't think. I've seen versions of this before in meetings and have chalked it up to some teachers not being able to relinquish the talking role in any room that they're in. Some people can't shut up. Or they don't know they're talking. Or maybe I'm just that annoying to listen to.

It reminds me of things I've seen in comedy routines, where partners talk over each other or start talking after a natural pause only to have the other person leap in again as if she hadn't finished. But I am not Keegan-Michael Key and she is not Jordan Peele, so it's annoying rather than entertaining.

And while I'd like to have meetings that are collegial and fun, sometimes it's fine to settle for productive and efficient.


gwinne said...

Oy. Dept meetings can bring out the worst in people (myself included!). We also have some mumblers and monologuers and mansplainers.

Best wishes on the END.

Bardiac said...

Ugh! Maybe she should be chair next time?

(I love a strong chair who sets an agenda, let's people talk things through, gets a vote, and moves on.)

Undine said...

Gwinne--that's what I love (usually) about our time-limited meeting culture: we have to stop before things get too bad. But the mansplainers and monologuers are still there. The END can't come soon enough.

Bardiac--maybe next time about being chair. I'm with you on the strong chair; I try to do that myself and always appreciate it in a committee I'm in.