The meetings maze

The meetings maze

Just what type of person are you when it comes to meetings? Mr Prospector has this useful guide to see if you’re normal or a sociopath.

Meetings. Shipping has a packed global schedule for its participants, what with it being a people industry and all that. So here’s a quiz so you can decide which of these meeting legends fits you best.

The set up

a) You receive an email requesting a meeting. You check your diary, offer some flexibility on dates and reply positively. You may offer tips for hotels and see if there is time for lunch.

b) You wait for a few days to see if they go away. Then they call you and you arrange a meeting time that suits everyone and stick it in your diary.

c) You wait (as above), but when they call you give them a tiny window of availability despite the diary being empty. Annoyingly, they confirm, so you say ‘OK’ then forget about it.

d) You don’t reply, you screen your calls and if they do wriggle through to you then you just say that you are ‘travelling that week’ and forget they are even alive.

The venue

a) You book one of the nice meeting rooms with the big ship models in it and make sure there are plenty of refreshments and some branded company gifts for your visitors.

b) You don’t do anything in advance. When the guest arrives you’ll knock on a few doors and see if there are any free rooms. Most likely you’ll get turfed out of one and will have to find another. When somebody knocks on the door you will say ‘Think we’re just about done here’ or ‘We’ll only be another five’ whether you are or not.

c) You have told them to give you a call once they are nearby, then when they do call you tell them that there is a coffee shop in the lobby of the building where you’ll meet them. This ensures that they realize they are not important enough for you to bother signing them in through security, while also confirming that your office block is kind of a big deal. Make sure you show yourself to be on nodding terms with lots of other people, including the barista. Friend of the people, just not them.

d) You make sure you are out of the office at the allotted time. Working from home, osteopath, dry cleaning, anal bleaching, doesn’t really matter. Personal favourite is being called out of town at short notice. You. Are. Not. In. The. Office.

The greeting

a) The moment of the meeting has arrived. Your receptionist calls to say your guest has arrived. You immediately pick up a clean pad, branded pen, some fresh business cards and head off with a smile. They probably already have a drink, but you check on them anyway.

b) You get the call, but even though you are ready you pick up the phone and make another call (cancel a standing order at the bank or similar). You leave them waiting for more than five minutes, less than 10. They are already in the meeting room, so you stroll in with an old pad and a pen branded by their biggest competitors. You offer them a drink.

c) It’s more than 10 minutes now, you’ve made your point that this meeting means only marginally more than nothing to you. You don’t bring so much as a mug of coffee in with you. You’ve left your business cards in your desk and will get one on the way out if they really want one. You might even wander in after the meeting has started with another colleague standing in while you keep them waiting beyond the point of embarrassment for others. When you come in, you make sure that you pay zero attention to what has been said previously, place your mobile in full view on the table and lean back in your chair, looking bored.

d) You can only imagine how the greetings went as you are working from home and not around to deal with the embarrassment.

Drinks

a) It’s the first thing you do after exchanging handshakes and business cards. You’re in the boardroom, so you can offer TCW (tea/coffee/water) or even still or sparkling (the champagne of the mid-level business meeting). You make sure your guests get what they want.

b) You ask if they were offered a drink, but basically you brought your own, so you don’t go much further than inquiring that they were asked, not if they received.

c) You are likely going to show up embarrassingly late, possibly with the meeting already started. No matter what happens you do not have a drink of any sort as it implies you are intending to be there for more than 20 minutes.

d) TCW, sulphuric acid, whatever. You’re not there.

Notes

a) You have a blank page in your notebook open. You start of with date, company name and visitors’ name, underline with a flourish, then get ready. When they talk you make copious notes to make sure you get everything down for posterity.

b) You find a pad in the meeting room and grab a pen from the sideboard. Occasionally you right single words down, totaling no more than say six. Things like ‘Fleet list’, or the name of a country will suffice. When you leave the room you don’t even pick up the pad anyway, you just leave it there so as not to add to the pile of single pages with six unconnected maritime words on them in your desk draws.

c) You come with nothing, write nothing down, leave with nothing. You are being coolly aloof in your eyes, a rude tit in your visitors’ eyes.

d) What are notes? Next question.

Subjects/intros

a) You are open and honest during the meeting. You answer questions as best as possible. You also ask pertinent ones in return. Maybe nothing will come of the meeting, but at least both parties extracted some business information and you tried to give a positive impression of the company you work for.

b) Could be interesting, but you are not really up for it. This sounds like it will require additional work from you, so effectively you listen a bit, talk a bit, probably miss out some important information to down-play any need of a follow-up. Couple of quick one liners that allude to you being a ‘big deal’ and you smile wanly then stare out of the window, stifling a yawn. The key here is never to get drawn into any specifics whatsoever.

c) You pay zero attention to what the visitor is saying, then once in a while you butt in with a killer line like ‘we already have X/Y/Z, so why should we switch to you’, even though that is exactly what they have been trying to pitch for the past 20 minutes while you played snake on your phone. You do this a couple of times, then say ‘Sorry, I’ve got to jump on a call now. Anyway, thanks for coming by’, then stick mobile to ear and start an animated conversation with someone, just to show that it was in fact the subject matter than bored you, rather than you being boring.

d) They can read the website, but they probably know all about you already when they were googling you.

How to end it

a) Simple enough, wait for its natural conclusion. Check if there is any other business, then if not, spend a few minutes asking about family, travel arrangements, offer advice on decent places to eat and show them all the way to the lift with a parting ‘Thanks for taking the time to come and see us. We’ll be in touch’.

b) You just jump in at some point with an ‘OK. I think we’ve got enough for now. Thanks for your time. Sorry, but I’ve got another one that I should have been in 10 minutes ago’. Total lie, you just want it to stop and it is not stopping, so you stop it. Polite handshakes, if a colleague is there, you get them to show them back to reception as you head the other way, for a long dump while you read the paper for 20 minutes. Do no harm.

c) You’ve never been there at the end of a meeting. You always arrive late and leave early. Goodbyes can be awkward, so you grab the phone as you rise and leave quickly with a half-hearted wave to nobody in particular and certainly no handshakes. TTFN lads!

d) Although you are not there, you should know that it ends when a highly embarrassed receptionist calls your mobile repeatedly (which goes straight to answerphone) as the equally embarrassed guest stands before her, being stripped of the dignity of being important enough to even get a meeting with you. By the way, CEOs never do this. You know that it will all end up with the receptionist saying ‘I’m really sorry about this. I don’t know what to say’ and the visitor saying ‘Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. I’ve got his mobile number anyway, I’ll call him later’ (lie). Then they trudge out of your office in shame and fury, vowing to never do any business with that company and tell everyone who will listen that that you are a male appendage.

Aftermath

a) A polite email thanking them for their time and following up any points from your notes

b) You reply to them if they send you one, probably with a very generic, non-specific one-liner that doesn’t pick up on any points they raise, to the effect of ‘me too – pleasure to meet you. Hope to see you again some time’

c) You binned their business card and added their email address to junk

d) You never read any emails anyway

Scores

If you are mostly (a):

You make a good impression, but let’s be honest you’re likely to still live with your Mum.

Mostly (b):

You are about normal insomuch as you are not that good at your job and thoroughly bored of it. However, it keeps the rain off your head, so you are wary of anybody that might make you work harder, do anything different, reveal your general indolence and indifference.

Mostly (c):

No two ways about it, you are a dick. No matter how much you try to pretend otherwise. You grew a moustache while still at school to try to get some respect, but still did Chess Club.

Mostly (d):

You are a sociopath who puts cats in bins and has at least five burner email addresses.

Not comes across Mr Prospector before? Here’s some recent missives from the most scurrilous voice in shipping Twitterdom to give you an idea of who he is.

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