Formal and informal meetings

How to use both of them successfully (and not)

Ever attended a super-informal meeting, where one person insisted on trying to make it formal? Whether through choice of clothing, vocabulary or simply body language, we’re all signaling the level of distance we wish to have to other people. When used by not thinking, these patterns of behavior signal highly different needs and wants to the people attending the same event. That’s not a great idea, is it?


You are not what you wear – Unless it’s a formal meeting

So, you’re at this meeting and the head of the event has set a dress code. S/he needs everyone to be all suited up and act like they’re on an official UN meeting (maybe they really are). Then someone chooses to go hipster and not dress accordingly, instead wearing jeans and a t-shirt/top.

What do you think will happen? A good deal? Any deal? Will this wild and crazy individual even be let into the meeting hall? Probably not. Will there be issues? Probably? Will the follow-up call explaining why this guy didn’t attend the meeting be somewhat inconvenient? You know the answer to that.

There are times when flexibility could lead to straight on success, and breaking the rules during such highly formal meetings isn’t the way to do it.

Fucking things up badly by playing the clown in the game isn’t recommended, and telling inappropriate jokes to someone who’s most likely got his head up his ass won’t hold it either. Approaching those people with understanding on the other hand, will get you in a much better position to get your point across.

Remember though, dress like you’re at the most important event in your life, be in that emotional state and focus on whatever goal you may have, whatever reason for which you’re there.

If you’re not into spending a fortune on a quality suit, go get something OK and then find someone who knows how to use thread and needle, to make those pieces fit you like a glove. Basically, the rule is that as long as it’s custom made and sewn to fit your body perfectly, the material could be garbage plastic bags.


Inappropriate informality and highly appreciated such – Choose the right thing

There are people who analyze the situation before they speak, and then there are the rest. Those who do will pretty soon into any gathering realize whether there’s room for jokes, what type of jokes, whether there’s space for a story about an adventure or any other form of monologue.

Messing that analysis up completely and finding some sort of imaginary space for telling stories won’t lead to anything good but a classification of that person as either a jerk or simply boring. Ignoring the codes here isn’t great.

However, if you notice that the main figure at the event is bored and polite, then there’s definitely some room for improvisation in order to bring forth laughs. Or speak about a nice airplane or car or dress or book or whatever seems to be his interest.

Sometimes, when annoying people attend these events, it’s far beyond the level of temptation to start an argument of sorts. Again, if that won’t lead to whichever outcome that is the reason for being there in the first place, then it’s not worth it.

If you however, happen to be there by chance, and don’t have anything to lose by expressing exactly what’s on your mind, then by all means – go for it and enjoy it to the fullest. If you’re really pissed off and can’t wait to get your point across, then a body language inspired by any Shakespeare play is recommended.


When formality hijacks the fun – Crash the party like a pro

A small change in your vocabulary, if you feel the timing to be right, may be what separates you from the rest of the attendees – in a highly positive way. In formal meetings, it’s next to a given that there will be people who are going to try to amaze the rest of the crowd by talking.

As in a lot. As in never stopping, creating migraines in all of those other people who will either be assholes or shut up about it. If you then step up, and deal with the situation in a diplomatic way, you’re the boss of the situation.

“When you invite the whole world to your party, inevitably someone pees in the beer.

– Xeni Jardin”

That’s noticeable, especially for the most important individual in the room, the person you’re really there to see and with whom you’d like to hold a conversation.

The same thing goes for when attending semi-casual meetings. What many people forget is that although being casual, those event will not be a kindergarten bullshit event just for killing time, but an actual professional gathering.

Develop a sensibility towards people and behavior. Remember that Darwin guy and his theory about the survival of the fittest – the one who sees reality as it is and then acts from there. Be that person and you’ll be walking away successfully from any meeting.

Note though, knowing when to conform to a situation is as important as knowing when to crash the party. In some cases, there’s next to no room for improvisation, and although there’s always room for saving someone’s ass when they mess up – sometimes, that room is very small.

In order to crash the party like a pro, that sensibility will be your guide. Do it with style.

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