Meeting Whiplash

Curve Balls

When was the last time you were completely stumped by a question, a request, or a situation you found yourself in? How did you handle it?

“Now we’ll have the quarterly status report delivered by Tim.”

Tim sat there in a stupor. He wasn’t prepared to give a report at this meeting.

He was only there because his boss had called in sick. Tim had received the phone call only twenty minutes ago. Something about bad seafood and bodily fluids erupting uncontrollably. Worse than that, his boss hadn’t completed the report for this morning’s meeting.

Tim had searched the desk, computer, copier, and even trash cans to find enough information for a presentation. Here he sat with a sloppy stack of mismatched papers hastily assembled and surely incoherent.

He cleared his throat and stood up. His initial mumbles sparked a few murmurs until he restarted, louder this time.

“Quarterly metrics are improved by 4 percent over last quarter. Incidents are down. Compliance is up. Emerging initiatives appear to be developing growth synergies across business sectors…”

The jargon flowed freely. The terms meaningless to him. This was how his boss always spoke. Tim hadn’t realized how much he’d absorbed through daily interaction with him. The meeting attendees listened and nodded as the gobbledygook language rolled off his tongue. Like a politician, he filled the air with words, conveying nothing.

After twenty minutes he stopped and sat down. He had made no conclusion. He had simply reached his personal limit of babble and cut off his last sentence abruptly. No one seemed to notice.

“Thank you, Tim, for that insightful discourse. I’m sure we’ll be able to incorporate some of your ideas into the next paradigm.”

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