Friday, September 08, 2006

Sidetalkers

I spent the last week at school in meetings, from 9 am to 5 pm straight through. In these meetings, teams of graduate students have to defend the proposals they've submitted (each team submits two ideas for projects, which they will spend the year writing.) There were nine faculty members, so it was a bit like we were the Supreme Court (except we didn't install an unelected president - at least, we haven't yet.)

It was interesting to see everyone's particular rhetorical mode; we all respect and love one another, but trapped in a room for hours on end, it's natural that sometimes the tiniest thing can piss someone else off. What sets me off are sidetalkers.

Sidetalkers. You know them. In any meeting, when someone is talking, they start a small whispered side conversation with someone next to them, immediately diluting the focus of the room. One director I had to do some projects at school with used to do that constantly. Even in a meeting with only three people, he could manage to be a Sidetalker.

Then there are the people who wait until time is up, and then say "Oh, One More Thing" and introduce something that takes ten minutes to discuss thoroughly.

Or, the Interrupter who then says, Oh, You Go Ahead. No, Really, Go Ahead. You've got the floor, now take it, dammit!

Or the Repeater who Didn't Listen the First Time.

It was a change of pace for me - usually I am the Soothing Synthesizer of All That Has Been Said; the Reassurer; the Inspirer.

This time, I was the Grinchy Bitch. I usually went first, and set the tone of things by asking some really tough questions (as in, did you know that this idea has already been done, one thousand times?)

I think, over the eight years that I've been teaching, that a lot of the hand-holding niceness in me has simply been burned away.

Or maybe all the Sidetalkers have just pushed me over the edge.

1 Comments:

Blogger Rindy said...

I had to attend a training meeting for local election officials, to teach us about some of the new rules & regs before the primary. And daaaaaamn, the room was buzzing with sidetalkers. Who then became the Repeaters Who Didn't Listen The First Time, because they were too busy sidetalking. Like a black hole of irritating group dynamics.

9:15 AM  

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