Okay, okay, so I know this is a hot take but…this email could’ve been a meeting.
I love meetings.
Gosh, it feels so good to finally be able to type it out loud.
I know that there are tons of memes and tweets out there about “meetings that could’ve been emails” because some people have way too many meetings during the week that waste virtually all of their time. But I personally can never have too many meetings.
I love meetings and everything about them. I love collaborating with people who I don’t usually get to collaborate with. I love meeting new people and seeing how everyone interacts with each other. I love learning more about my coworkers’ lives in between conversations about our jobs. And let’s be honest, those connections are the best part of meetings anyway. I thrive when I’m making genuine bonds with people. For me, those bonds are more important than any work conversation happening during these meetings.
I know, I know…I’m the person in the meeting that you hate because they keep derailing everything.
Look, I get it. If you get more work done at your desk, then meetings can just be a huge time suck. If you’re having hour-long meetings where any questions could’ve been answered by someone typing out a two-minute email, then meetings are just a waste of time.
But…hear me out…what if meetings save time because they allow for clarity?
If there are 10 questions that need to be answered, then 10 more questions based on the answers to those questions, emails and chats can just get confusing. Sure, you could send 10 numbered questions, but there’s no guarantee that the recipient will see it quickly, respond right away, or remember to answer all of the questions. With all of those questions, there’s a high chance that they’ll forget to answer at least one of them or simply won’t know the answer. If you’re on the phone or in a meeting with them, they can answer all of the other questions and ask someone else about anything they don’t know, instead of waiting to answer the email until they have every single answer. Plus, if you need to ask follow up questions, you’ll be sending emails back and forth and any older questions will get lost in the shuffle. Meetings are just better for minimizing confusion!
Meetings are also better for giving me my daily dose of people-ing. I’m an extrovert who gets energy from talking to others. When I have a day with absolutely no meetings, I hit a wall by the early afternoon. Every meeting energizes me and enables me to keep working for the next few hours. I need more breaks when I don’t have any meetings, not fewer. I need that interaction to keep me going.
When my old job went from being in-person to remote, it was challenging for me because I had so much less interaction. Instead of daily meetings where my team met up and all chatted together, we had quick daily phone calls. Instead of impromptu meetings by the coffee machine, we conversed via G-chat. Moving to remote work made me feel less connected with my coworkers. On the bright side, this lack of closeness enabled me to find a job that I liked better, but that was another remote job where I didn’t get the chance to interact with my new coworkers often, either.
After a while, I began to feel burnt out and I couldn’t figure out why. I wasn’t working many more hours or anything. I was sleeping okay. What it came down to was the fact that I wasn’t getting enough of that energizing interaction throughout my day. I wanted to have more opportunities for both fun chatting and productive collaboration.
One of my favorite things I did in my college career was joining the orientation staff. I joined during my freshman year as an Orientation Leader in an effort to make our orientation program better and help incoming students acclimate to college life. The orientation team eventually became so much more for me. By my senior year, I was the Student Director of Orientation, and my orientation job had served as the most fulfilling part of my college career. My favorite parts of my orientation job? Meetings where the team all sat around the table exchanging ideas, discussing how we can improve our current programs, and most importantly, talking about our lives. Collaboration is all about bouncing ideas off of each other, watching them grow like snowballs as everyone gives their unique input. Meetings make this collaboration possible.
I do recognize that especially in our remote world, people are overloaded with too many meetings, causing them to work more hours. Also, I know that there are plenty of introverts in the workforce that are not energized by meetings and would rather work more isolated. However, as an extrovert, I simply love meetings. I take every opportunity I can to connect with others.
So next time you’re about to send a convoluted email to an extrovert, throw a meeting on their calendar instead! Log on to that meeting, ask them about their day, and then buckle in.