Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It's supposed to be a family reunion.
There are relationships to negotiate and outcomes to be achieved.
There are alliances to be fostered and individuals to be tolerated.
Sometimes, those individuals are loud and annoyingly sure of themselves.
It's not always easy to get through Thanksgiving Dinner. Here, then, are some simple meetings strategies to help you through.
1. Agree and Proceed.
This is a tactic I saw performed to perfection many times in New York. When your dad, your uncle, your mother-in-law or your cousin begin to spout utter bilge, pause as if to consider and then agree with them. You know they're spoiling for a fight. It's Thanksgiving, after all. So agree with the outrageous nonsense and proceed to think what you really think at your leisure. You don't need to tell your family who you really are. They're your family, for goodness sake. If you tell them the truth, they'll use it against you. Yes, just as your co-workers do. And you need them for certain things, so let them feel like you're with them all the way.
2. Create Private Alliances.
Get together with two or three like-minded family members and agree that, if someone begins to make uncomfortable socio-political statements, you'll instantly change the subject among yourselves and make sure you just don't stop chattering. Soon, the unreconstructed parent or relative will decide they can't get a word in and will politely drown their frustrations in the cheap Grenache you brought after it was left behind at an office party.
3. Bait And Switch.
This works well when you have a very bullish opponent. Let your boorish, bigoted family member spout for a little while. Then, instead of addressing anything they've said, utter something of no relevance to what they've said, something to which they feel they must respond. Sample: "How 'bout them Cowboys?" Once you've led them to this safe ground, let them waffle on for another long while. Soon, the original boorishness will be forgotten, as you discuss the varying merits of Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones and even Jay and John Gruden. In an instant, it'll already be time for dessert.
4. Set The Agenda.
One good way to control a meeting and not let it drift toward fractiousness is to set the agenda and make sure others stick to it. So prepare at least five safe subjects on which you know the majority can happily chat for the duration of the meal. In the current world, safe subjects aren't easy to find. So think of things that everyone feels strongly about, but is largely in agreement. Personally, I find the subject of airlines can often charm people into an eerily perfect harmony.
5. Listen and be quiet.
I know some might this a controversial strategy. However, I've been in many a business meeting where the most pleasing outcomes came when I said as little as possible and just listened with one ear, just in case. You can make this strategy really work for you if you have long hair. If you do, slip a single AirPod in your ear, cover it with your locks and allow pleasing music to drift into your mind while all around you may be tempted to lose theirs. Before you know it, the harmony you hear in your ear will reign all around you. And if it doesn't, just accept it'll soon all be over.