Cartoonists don’t get to sit in meetings very often, but today, thanks to some upcoming events regarding a nonprofit for which I volunteer (Wyakin Warrior Foundation), I spent the entire day in conference. It was like being in the Navy again.
Today’s meetings were pretty interesting and important to a worthy organization. But I could not help but reminisce about the old days spent in rooms full of senior officers, briefers and interested observers. You know, if you aren’t interested in what is actually being said at a military meeting, it is fun to watch the dynamics of the participants.
There are those who want to exert their authority/knowledge upon the group. They tend to be angry, blunt and speak in phrases that discourage questions.
Then there are those who will do almost anything to avoid being noticed (I was in this group). They avoid eye contact, never ask questions (or answer them, if possible), and use phrases like, “Pass” or “I don’t have anything to add.” They are introverts on negative steroids.
There is another element that is difficult to define. They are the ones who seem to actually enjoy being there. They revel in the meeting environment, offering thoughtful but irrelevant comments from time to time. They are inevitably upbeat and energized by the whole ordeal. I do not understand them, nor do I really want to because they frighten and confuse me.
I once attended a meeting about meetings. Really. There had been complaints that the command had entirely too many meetings and we met to do something about it. The irony was beautiful.
It was right about then that I became a professional cartoonist.
And that is how meetings can change your life.