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Can manners make us more innovative?

February 11, 2011 - 3 Comments
  • The top meeting etiquette blunder is multi-tasking whilst in face-to-face meetings.

As discussed in my previous post “What will your working environment look like in 10 years?” the business environment is set to change rapidly in the coming years. Many people have already seen some changes in their workplaces with technology such as WebEx and TelePresence enabling virtual workplaces. There are many financial, business and environmental benefits to these technologies, but one of the side-effects that seem to be appearing is bad business etiquette.

The implications of bad business etiquette are much more than simply annoying or upsetting the other people in the meeting, it inhibits innovation and prevents people from being able to contribute fully. Multi-tasking in a meeting has been described as the number one “Etiquette Blunder” as it indicates disinterest to others in the meeting. This leads to people feeling less important and less likely to contribute.

Jani Campisi, Houston Business Journal, asserts that consideration is the first rule of meeting etiquette. Encouraged participation is a key to an inclusive, productive meeting. By giving each person a chance to contribute leads to ideas and input from less dominant and introverted members of the meeting.  Video meetings can prove to be an etiquette minefield,  as there are no “universally accepted rules of engagement”. Every conversation about etiquette and communication, meeting etiquette boils down to one simple question: how would you feel if you were the person on the other end?

Please leave us a comment if you agree or disagree with this. Does your business environment have meeting rules? How do you think we can be more effective, more productive and more inclusive in business meetings? Will meeting manners become more or less important as the working environment visualizes?

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  1. Meetings that have a strong framework such as an agenda and a strong purpose are the best meetings. Having a bit of chaos is essential to keep it interesting and keep the energy level high in the room. That being said, the chaos should never be inconsiderate and rude. A good meeting is a fine art. Not everyone has mastered the craft.

    So in answer to your question. Some rules are good. However, I have seen rules in meetings go too far so that the rules dominate the meeting instead of the purpose for the meeting. This can be equally disheartening for the participants.

    I have seen teams where everyone was extremely nice to each other accomplish nothing because no one wanted to offend anyone. So I’ll take a bit of chaos anyday to ensure there is some progress.

  2. Rules of etiquette for business meetings do exist. They are great for a regular business meeting to update status or work through details. If you are looking for creativity however, there is a lot of evidence in academic studies that have looked into innovation and creativity to suggest that the really creative meetings involve people interjecting every which way in the discussion. If you stifle this urge to express an idea immediately by imposing rules like “wait until the speaker finishes”, that ideas will be lost and the overall creativity of the group will be hindered. So, if you really want to be creative and innovative, you’ll have to learn to live with a bit of chaos.

    But for regular meetings, a set of rules to maintain politeness would make things easier. I’m just not sure how you can separate these two types of meetings.

    • It would be very interesting to know if anyone has implemented specific meeting rules that all attendees have to adhere to, and what difference they have seen.
      Would you prefer meeting rules? Or do you prefer meetings with a little bit of chaos?