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What not to do in the meeting room

Office meetings aren’t glamorous, but, sadly, they’re a necessity. Here are some tips on how to stay alert and polite.

What not to do in the meeting room
[Photo: Luke Chesser/Unsplash]

No matter what type of office you work in, chances are you have your fair share of meetings to attend. And while you might bemoan the fact that you’re forced to spend hours each week holed up in conference rooms, the reality is that it’s your obligation, as an employee, to attend meetings as necessary. That said, the way you act during those meetings could impact the way others view you professionally, so be sure to avoid these unfavorable behaviors that’ll only make you look bad.

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1. Constantly checking your email or text messages

When you’re one of many attendees at a given meeting, and not a particularly active participant, it’s natural to be drawn to your mobile phone, especially when it buzzes with new emails or texts. But while the occasional glance during an extended sit-down may be acceptable, don’t be that person whose eyes are glued to a cellphone the entire time. Unless you’re the CEO of a major corporation, whatever messages are coming in during that hour can probably wait, and checking them constantly sends the message that you clearly aren’t interested in the discussion at hand.

2. Falling asleep

Sometimes, meetings are boring. But letting yourself nod off during them just isn’t okay. If you’re tired coming into a meeting, whether from general exhaustion or a particularly bad night’s sleep, bring a caffeinated beverage or even a bottle of ice-cold water to keep yourself awake. And if you really feel yourself fading, excuse yourself to use the restroom, splash some water on your face, and then come back and power through.

3. Eating or chewing loudly

It’s not unheard of for people to eat while attending meetings, especially when the timing overlaps with lunch. But if you’re going to snack or consume a meal during a meeting, do so quietly, and choose a meal that’s conducive to eating quickly and neatly. Furthermore, be sensitive to the fact that certain food smells may be troubling to others, and avoid items that can really be obtrusive in a closed-off conference room, like fish or pungent sauces.

4. Interrupting

If you’re going to attend a meeting, you want your voice heard when issues arise that you have an opinion on. But talking over other people isn’t a smart move. In doing so, you’ll come off as rude, and your peers may have a harder time taking your input seriously. Instead, wait your turn to speak, and if it’s really too difficult to get a word in edgewise, raising your hand isn’t a bad idea.

5. Arriving late

Sometimes, showing up late to meetings is unavoidable—such as when you have a previous meeting that runs over. But constantly arriving late to meetings shows that you’re not respectful of other people’s schedules. To avoid this, make a habit of blocking off time on your calendar for 15 minutes before and after scheduled meetings. This will make it easier to arrive at the time you’re supposed to.

Meetings at work are often unavoidable, but don’t let your behavior during them tarnish your reputation. Instead, make an effort to shake the above habits if you’ve been guilty of them in the past.

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This article originally appeared in The Motley Fool and is reprinted with permission.

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