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Milwaukee OnLine Journal Of Social Enterprise

please note: this is a draft piece I plan to submit to Godsil’s online journal two weeks hence

Lately in my work I have been meeting with people from all over the city, experts with a variety of interests and disciplines. While all of the meetings I’ve had were about a particular subject, and convened for a formal “reason”, I attempted to practice gently knowing the people beyond the project.

Doing this carefully means that we still achieve our objective; in other words, our reason for meeting is formally satisfied and we have covered all of the agenda items. We have conducted the mutual monologue of our interests successfully.

That sounds kind of dry, doesn’t it? I mean, surely we’re also people! Where does the personal dimension find expression in the reliable execution of a meeting agenda?

Of course, we all know the answer: it’s from the smattering of polite chit-chat that comes before and after the meeting. It’s from the people who participate in the meeting primarily by seasoning it with personal anecdotes, many of which are not on topic or only distantly related to the purpose of the meeting. Right?

To me, though, both of these options are unsatisfactory. We need to do more to turn our monologues into meetings and our meetings into collaborations. The likelihood that anyone I find myself meeting with for a particular reason has absolutely no other reasons in common with mine is small. It’s much more fun to have a meeting in which the discovery of unrelated common objectives and causes is considered a part of the agenda, and which supports our achievement of our primary purpose.

This does mean excluding or diminishing the chit-chat which some do artfully, putting us at our ease and saving our successive moments from the tension that can otherwise become the source for unrelated personal anecdotes. I think we can let go of that, because if we discover future collaborations, future opportunities to speak playfully will also become available. We don’t have to do everything all at once, shallowly; but depth doesn’t become shallow when spread out over time.

Every meeting is a collaboration.

Last edited by JamesCarlson.   Page last modified on February 18, 2005

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